Take the 2-minute tour ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was recently staying with a Mexican family, and during lunch, the children (ages 8 and 5) were being rather unruly. The grandmother would command them: ¡A comer!

I have never heard a command in this grammatical form. What is the use of this form of a (psuedo?) command? How commonly is this used?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's a shorten form of "pongamonos a comer".

The verb is "poner" in its imperative form:

tú:

ponte a + infinitive

nostros:

pongamonos a + infinitive

ustedes:

ponganse a + infinitive

Examples:

¡A trabajar!

¡Ponte a trabajar!

¡Pongamonos a trabajar!

RAE defines this use:

poner:

41 . prnl. Comenzar a ejecutar una determinada acción. Ponerse A escribir, A estudiar.

So basically it means "to begin doing something".

In the shorten form depending on the context you can infer the pronoun. In your example because it was a family and most family eat together the pronoun was "nosotros" thus "pongamonos a comer".

In its imperative form it is used to command. I don't know if it is used in all Spanish speaking countries but at least in Mexico is used.

share|improve this answer
1  
Just to confirm it's quite commonly used in Spain too, usually preceded by ¡Vamos! or ¡Venga!, e.g. ¡Venga! ¡A currar! (Let's get back to work!) or ¡Vamos! ¡A cenar! (Let's have dinner!) –  Alexis Pigeon Jan 28 '13 at 17:22
add comment

It is definitively a VERY common form.

(Ve) ¡A dormir!

(Empecemos) ¡A correr! ¡Huyamos!

(?) ¡A callar!

(ponte)¡A trabajar!

I feel it is oft used to interrupt an activity in favor of what you command, immediatly.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.