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All about the Verb Llevar and Its Many Uses

¿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!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Llevar Meaning "To Take" Something or Someone Somewhere

 

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 18

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Le voy a llevar de compras.

I'm going to take him shopping.

Caption 7, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 2 - Sam va de compras - Part 4

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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 10

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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.

 

Llevar to Introduce Cause 

 

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 3 - Part 8

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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 Intuición - Part 1

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Llevar Used with Time

 

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 Sol

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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 11

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Llevamos más de dos semanas sin agua

We've been without water for more than two weeks

Caption 24, Kikirikí Agua - Part 1

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Llevar Meaning "to Wear"

 

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 Diarias

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Llevar a Cabo

 

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 Víctor

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Dejarse Llevar

 

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 Intuición - Part 1

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Llevarse Bien/Mal 

 

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, y sabes que se va a llevar bien con todo el mundo...

That you can take her to a... to a place, and you know she'll get along with everyone...

Caption 61, Biografía Enrique Iglesias

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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!

Grammar Verbs

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