¿Cómo te llevas con el español? (How do you get along in Spanish?) Wait— didn't llevar mean "to take"? Well, yes... you're right! The verb llevar often translates as "to take," and not just in phrases like "take your umbrella" or "take your children to school," but also in collocations like "to take time." And these are just a few of the uses of the verb llevar that we'll examine in this lesson. Actually, llevaría más de una lección (it would take more than one lesson) to cover all of its uses. But let's try and do our best here!
We can llevar something from one place to another and also accompany or guide someone somewhere, as in the following examples:
Tengo la posibilidad de llevar todos los días al colegio a mi hijo.
I have the chance to take my son to school every day.
Caption 53, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 18Play Caption
Le voy a llevar de compras.
I'm going to take him shopping.
Caption 7, Extr@: Extra en español - Ep. 2: Sam va de comprasPlay Caption
It is no wonder, then, that the term for "takeout food" (comida para llevar) in Spanish can be literally translated as "food for taking":
Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.
There were some takeout places here.
Caption 8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10Play Caption
Note that while the speaker uses the term for "takeout food" to refer to the location, it is more common to say casa de comidas para llevar to refer to a takeout restaurant. By the way, in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, these places are also called rotisería.
When this idea of direction goes beyond space to express cause, llevar means something closer to the verbs "to lead" or "to drive" in English, as in the following example:
Una cosa llevó a la otra, ¿no?
One thing led to another, right?
Caption 13, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3Play Caption
A person might llevarte a la desesperación, a la ruina o a la locura ("lead" or "drive you to despair, bankrutpcy, or madness"), or maybe you are lucky and end up being very successful, like in this Yabla video:
Muchas veces, incluso nos puede llevar al éxito profesional.
Many times, it can even lead us to professional success.
Caption 13, Club de las ideas - IntuiciónPlay Caption
Llevar also resembles "to take" when used with time, work, or effort to express that it is necessary to invest such time or effort in something. For instance, in one of our videos, María Sol explains that learning Spanish is a long process by saying that:
...de que puede llevar mucho tiempo.
...that it can take a long time.
Caption 29, GoSpanish - Entrevista con María SolPlay Caption
Yet, it can also be used to refer to the time that has gone by since the inception of something:
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas en Marbella? -En Marbella, cuarenta y un años.
How long have you been in Marbella? -In Marbella, forty-one years.
Caption 10, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 11Play Caption
Llevamos más de dos semanas sin agua.
We've been without water for more than two weeks.
Caption 24, Kikirikí - AguaPlay Caption
We also use llevar to refer to the clothing or glasses we "wear," or the way we have our hair, in sentences such as Llevaba lentes (He/She was wearing glasses) or María llevaba el cabello largo (María had long hair).
...y me gusta llevar faldas normalmente.
...and I like to wear skirts usually.
Caption 6, El Aula Azul - Actividades DiariasPlay Caption
Another instance in which llevar can be translated as "to take" is when we use the expression llevar a cabo (to take place), which might also mean "to carry out" or "conduct" depending on the case/collocation.
Aquí se va a llevar a cabo el Campeonato WK.
Here, the WK Championship is going to take place.
Caption 3, Adícora, Venezuela - VíctorPlay Caption
We'll often hear people inviting us to let go, relax, and enjoy the feeling of dejarse llevar (letting oneself go), another expression which incorporates this verb:
Hay que estar relajado y dejarse llevar, ¿no?
You should be relaxed and let yourself go, right?
Caption 12, Club de las ideas - IntuiciónPlay Caption
Finally, we'll can state that nos llevamos bien/mal with a person or people to describe how well or poorly we "get along with" others.
Que la puedes llevar a una... a un sitio,
That you can take her to a... to a place,
y sabes que se va a llevar bien con todo el mundo...
and you know she'll get along with everyone...
Caption 61, Biografía - Enrique IglesiasPlay Caption
As you can tell, there are so many uses of llevar that se hace difícil llevar la cuenta (it's hard to keep track) of all of them. We hope you enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!