Ponte las Pilas – Translations & Meanings in English


DefinitionPonte las pilas is an informal Spanish expression that can be used to encourage people to behave, work harder, or to make a better effort. As a result, depending on the context, ‘ponte las pilas’ can be translated as “to buckle down”, “to pull your socks up”, “to roll one’s sleeves up” or “get one’s act together”. 

What Does ‘Ponte las Pilas’ Means?

  • Translation #1: ‘Ponte las pilas’ can be translated as ‘to buckle down’, ‘to pull your socks up’, “to roll one’s sleeves up” or “get one’s act together”. 

How and When to use ‘Ponte las Pilas’

  • To ask people to work harder or make a better effort. In Latin American Spanish speaking countries, ponte las pilas is a popular expression that people use to motivate someone to work harder or make a better effort in a particular situation. Although this expression cannot be translated literally, it’s close in meaning to ‘to buckle down’, ‘to pull your socks up’, ‘to roll one’s sleeves up’ or ‘get one’s act together’. 

Examples on How to Use ‘Ponte las Pilas’ in Spanish

Here are some real-life examples of how to apply ‘ponte las pilas’ into your Spanish conversations. 

Asking people to make an effort, word harder or behave

‘Ponte las pilas’ is a casual expression that you can use to motivate people and ask them to do a better job or have a better behavior in something that they’re expected to do. Here is the phrase structure you need to follow in order to use this expression: 

[Ponerse conjugated] + las pilas

Ponte las pilas o voy a tener que despedirte
Pull your socks up or I’m going to have to fire you

Kim, ponte las pilas y haz lo que tienes que hacer
Kim, get your act together and do what you need to do

Si nos ponemos las pilas, podemos terminar a tiempo
If we roll our sleeves up, we can finish this on time

La neta Efraín no se quiere poner las pilas en la oficina
Efrain doesn’t want to get his act together in the office 

Me tengo que poner las pilas en español porque el año que viene me mudo a España
I have to buckle down with Spanish because next year I’m moving to Spain 

Take Note: Ponte las pilas is the imperative form of the reflexive verb ‘ponerse las pilas’. If you want to use this expression with different people, you need to make sure that you know how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish

Who Can You Use ‘Ponte las Pilas’ With?

‘Ponte las pilas’ is a very popular expression among Latin American Spanish speakers. However, it’s only suitable for casual conversations. 

Synonyms: 4 Ways To Say ‘Ponte las Pilas’

  • Avisparse → Another casual expression to say ‘to pull your socks up’. It’s more common in Spain. 
  • Aplicarse → Aplicarse is a casual expression that can be used to ask people to make a better effort and work harder. 
  • Ponerse al tiro → It’s a Mexican slang expression that can be used to ask people to take advantage of an opportunity and work harder. It means ‘to pull your socks up’. ‘Ponerse al tiro’ is slightly more informal than ‘ponerse las pilas’. 
  • Hacer un mejor esfuerzo → It’s a formal and standardized way to ask people to try harder. It means ‘to make a better effort’. 

Related Resource: How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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