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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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,

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 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

A Useful Verb: Hacer

The Spanish verb hacer primarily means "to do" or "to make." This verb is used in a wide range of expressions, which makes it one of the most versatile verbs in Spanish. However, and maybe for the same reason, the meanings and uses of hacer are not always easy to grasp. The fact that this is an irregular verb doesn't make it any easier either. So, to successfully master the verb hacer, the first step would be to memorize its conjugation (the past tense is especially challenging). After that, we recommend that you study it using a case-by-case approach. Luckily, the use of hacer is extremely common, so our catalog of videos offers you plenty of examples. 

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Let's quickly review the two basic meanings of the word hacer. The first meaning is "to make":
 

Vamos a hacer un arroz.

We're going to make rice.

Caption 74, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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The second basic meaning of hacer is "to do":
 

¿Y ahora qué hacemos?

And now what do we do?

Caption 12, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror

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Keep in mind that these meanings of the verb hacer as "to do" or "to make" can be used in many different situations that don't necessarily correspond to the uses of "to make" and "to do" in English. For example, in Spanish you can use the verb hacer to say quiero hacer una llamada (I want to make a call), and hazme un favor (do me a favor). But you can also use it in expressions like me haces daño (you hurt me), and ella hizo una pregunta (she asked a question). Here's another example:
 

Tú me hiciste brujería.

You put a spell on me.

Caption 38, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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Hacer is also extensively used in Spanish to express time or duration. It can be used to express for how long you have been doing something:
 

Tengo veinte años y estoy hace dos años acá en Buenos Aires.

I'm twenty years old and I've been here in Buenos Aires for two years.

Caption 40, Buenos Aires - Heladería Cumelen

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Or to express the concept of "ago":
 

Hace unos días me olvidé la mochila en el tren.

A few days ago I forgot my backpack on the train.

Caption 22, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos

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Hacer is also used in weather expressions:
 

Hoy hace tanto viento que casi me deja caer.

Today it is so windy that it almost makes me fall [over].

Caption 22, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 2

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And other impersonal expressions, such as hacer falta (to need/be lacking):
 

Se puede poner entero, no hace falta quitar corteza.

It can be put in whole; it's not necessary to remove the crust.

Caption 84, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 4

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To indicate taking on a role:

Siempre quieres que haga el papel de villana.
You always want me to play the role of the villain.

Or to indicate that someone is pretending to be something: 
 

Digo si pasa algo con mi hijo, no te hagas la ingenua.

I'm saying if something is happening with my son, don't play dumb.

Caption 13, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 5

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The reflexive form hacerse is commonly used in this way in many expressions such as hacerse el loco (to pretend to be crazy), hacerse la mosquita muerta (to look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth, literally "to pretend to be a dead fly"), hacerse el muerto (to play dead), etc. Here is another example:
 

Mira, no te hagas la viva.

Look, don't play smart.

Caption 3, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 4

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Hacer can also express the idea of getting used to something:
 

No hacerme a la idea de que esto está bien

Not to get used to the idea that this is OK

Caption 32, Xóchitl - Vida en Monterrey

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Hacer is also used to express that something doesn't matter in expressions such as no le hace (it doesn't matter), or no hace al caso (it doesn't pertain to the matter). Or it can mean "to refer to": Por lo que hace al dinero, tú no te preocupes (Concerning money, you don't worry). The list of its possible uses goes on and on! Let's see one last use of hacer, which was sent to us by one of our subscribers:

The expression hacer caso means "to pay attention," "to obey," or "to believe":

 

Nada, hay que hacerle caso al médico.

No way, you have to pay attention to the doctor.

Caption 63, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

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Hazme caso que tú eres perfecta.

Believe me that you are perfect.

Caption 58, Biografía - Enrique Iglesias

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Pero yo siempre, siempre, siempre le hago caso a Sor Cachete.

But I always, always, always, do as Sister Cachete says.

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 2

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Thank you for reading and sending your suggestions.

 

Perdón: Forgiveness

So, how does La Secta's refrain go? (¿Cómo dice el estribillo de La Secta?) Here it is:

 

Llora mi corazón

My heart cries

Rogando tu perdón

Begging for your forgiveness

Captions 7-8, La Secta - Llora mi corazón

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In this lyric's translation, we noted that perdón means -- and sounds like -- "pardon" in English. But it also means "forgiveness." Because "begging your pardon" sounds too stilted and too close to the question "Beg your pardon?," we chose "forgiveness" here.

 

Aquí estoy, ya me ves, suplicándote perdón.

Here I am, as you can see, imploring your forgiveness.

Caption 67, Biografía - Enrique Iglesias

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(Incidently, "Beg your pardon?" -- as in, "What did you just say?" -- is usually ¿Cómo? in Spanish.)

Coming soon on Yabla Spanish, we'll provide consejos para la calle ("advice for the street") to teach you when to use perdón (pardon), permiso and disculpe (excuse me). Tune in then to learn the best way to clear a path and beg forgiveness when you knock someone down.

 

Vocabulary

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