Old February 29, 2012, 08:04 PM
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I apologize in adnvance. This question is going to be kind of basic, but I feel as though I'm using the word "poner" wrong or at wrong times. Espero que me puedes ayudar.

At work, when we are putting our trim molding on our cabinetry, I will say something like, "¿Puedes poner eso aquí?" I know I could also say, "¿Puedes instalar eso aquí" as well. My understanding, and I haven't looked at this very much, is that the word "echar" is a similar verb and can be used the same in some instances. So could I say, "¿Puedes echar eso aquí?"

Example: I sold a truck to a Mexican guy a few months back and he was about to leave when he reminded me about the canopy. He asked me, "¿Podemos echar la cubierta?"/"Can we put on the cover?"

So, what am I missing. Is there a difference? Could someone give me a know how on when to use and when not to use one or the other? I would be forever greatful
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Old February 29, 2012, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by caliber1 View Post
I apologize in adnvance.
... Espero que me puedan ayudar.

So, what am I missing? Is there a difference? Could someone give me a know-how on when to use and when not to use one or the other? I would be forever grateful.
You may want to use colocar as an alternative to poner, but poner certainly works. Meter would be used if the item fits inside something else.
Echar, on the other hand, has different meanings, and wouldn't work in either case you mentioned. Its primary meanings are 'throw', 'throw out' and 'add'. Adding, or throwing on, the canopy is a better translation for 'echar la cubierta'.

By the way, when you ask a question with 'can you' in English, what you really mean is 'would you', not 'are you able'. So, it would be more polite to ask, "Me podrías poner/colocar ...?"

Do you know the word for 'moulding'? If so, you should use the gender-appropriate demonstrative pronoun - ese/este (masculine) or esa/esta (feminine). Eso and esto are used if you don't know what something is, or if it's an idea, situation or concept. If it isn't one of those, it has a gender. So, once you know what something is, always match gender.
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Old March 01, 2012, 02:17 PM
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I agree with Rusty's explanation.

Let me just add a little note on these verbs when used as "poner":

"Colocar" implies the idea of carefully putting something solid at its right place.

"Echar" implies an idea of carelessly throwing something, no matter if it falls at the right place or not. It also gives an idea of spreading something like a blanket, or even pouring a liquid (or something made of small particles).
I don't find this one suitable for "instalar".

·Me puse/apliqué/unté una pomada en donde me quemé. -> I applied an ointment to where I got burnt.
In very colloquial Spanish, one can say "me eché una pomada", but never "me coloqué una pomada" (unless you're using the ointment tube on top of your head maybe).

·Ponte el suéter, que hace frío. -> Put on your sweater, it's cold.
"Échate el suéter" would mean that you're not actually putting it on, but just over you (no hands in the sleeves, for example). "Colócate el suéter" would demand being too careful for such an everyday life activity.

·Juan se quedó dormido en el sofá; échale/ponle una cobija encima. -> "Échale" wouldn't mean to throw, but rather to spread a blanket on him (one wants to be careful not to wake him up). "Colócale una cobija" might work too, although it's not commonly heard.

·No quiero que mi motocicleta se moje con la lluvia; le puse/coloqué/eché una cubierta impermeable. -> I don't want my motorcycle to get wet in the rain, I put a waterproof cover on it.

·¿Puedes echarle/ponerle agua a mi planta? -> Can you please water my plant?

·Ponga/eche/vierta en el tazón la harina, los huevos y el azúcar. -> Pour in the bowl the flour, the eggs and the sugar.
"Coloque" can't be said here, as perhaps one would have to carefully put entire eggs or the sugar be placed grain by grain in the bowl. ;(

·Coloque/ponga las sillas cerca de la entrada. -> Put the chairs near the entrance.
Never "echar" as the chairs would end up being just thrown there.

·Coloca/pon la televisión sobre esa mesa. -> Put the TV set on top of that table.
Never say "echar" here or something terrible may happen to the TV.
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