Posted by: janecronin | November 4, 2018


It’s time to tackle a tricky verb, namely “llevar”.  On first appearance this verb seems quite simple, and in fact it is in terms of its grammatical forms.  It is a common or garden “-ar” verb that obeys all the rules.  Also its most basic meaning, that is “to take” in the sense of “move from one place to another”, is very straightforward.  However, I defend my comment about it being a tricky verb as it has quite a lot of secondary meanings, idiomatic uses and other things that can create some confusion if we are not careful.

We had better start with some of the basic uses, for example when it means “to take”, as in the sentence “Llevo mis libros a clase” (I take my books to class).   It can also mean “to carry” for example “Siempre llevo mis llaves y el bolsillo” (I always carry my keys in my pocket) and “to wear” as in “La modelo lleva un jersey gris y pantalones negros” (the model is wearing a grey jumper and black trousers).  When talking about “wearing” we sometimes add the word “puesto” (put on).  “Llevo puesto  mi chaqueta” (I am wearing, have on, my jacket).

Another use of “llevar” is to “bear” as in to “bear the name”.  “El restaurant lleva el nombre de su abuelo”.  Going back to more everyday uses, if we “llevar en coche” we give someone a lift.  Nowadays there is no need to specify in English “in my car” as we tend to take the means of transport for granted.  Likewise in Spanish, if some asks “Me puedes llevar a casa después de la fiesta” (Can you give me a lift home after the party) we assume it isn´t on the back of a donkey.

More idiomatically, “llevar” can refer to time.  If something “lleva tiempo” it takes time, as in the sentence “Cocinar una buena paella lleva bastante tiempo” (It takes quite a long time to cook a good paella).  Still on the subject of food, “llevar” can mean the same as “contener” (to contain) as in “La tortilla lleva cebolla pero no lleva ajo” (the tortilla has/contains onion but not garlic).  Still on the subject of time, we use “llevar” when we want to talk about age difference, as in the sentence “mi hermana me lleva seis años” which means “my sister is six years older than me”.  That one is slightly harder to translate literally into English, as is the rather common time expression “¿Cuántos años llevas en España?”  “Llevo viviendo aquí cuatro años” (How long have you been in Spain?  I have lived here for four years).

Finally, there is the widely-used reflexive verb “llevarse” which means “to take away” as used when shopping “me lo llevo” (I’ll take it) and which also means “to get on with” that is socially or personally.  “Me llevo muy bien con mis hermanos” (I get on very well with my brothers and sisters).

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