The construction poner(se) a + infinitivo, prevalent in spoken Spanish, is used to mean to begin/start doing [something], to get something/someone to do [something], to set about doing [something] or to get on with [something].
This verb can be used either as a reflexive verb or as a transitive verb.
1. Ponerse a + infinitivo
Read and listen to these examples:
In the examples above, ponerse a + infinitivo suggests the beginning of an activity at a specific moment, usually as an unexpected action.
It is also commonly used to talk about the weather in an impersonal way, as an unexpected action:
De repente se puso a llover.
It suddenly started to rain.
¡Se ha puesto a nevar!
It has started to snow!
2. Poner + (algo/alguien) + a + infinitivo
In the examples above, poner + (algo/a alguien) + a + infinitivo suggests that the subject of the sentence begins to do something. This time it is not reflexive but it has a direct object.
Notice how in the last example above, the object refers to people, (los niños) in which case the conjugated verb (poner) is followed by "a".
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