Spanish Verbs – Comparing Tomar vs. Llevar

In Spanish, there are two common verbs that can mean “to take”:  Tomar and Llevar. However, these two Spanish verbs aren’t used interchangeably. Note that Tomar can also mean to drink (ex. tomar vino – to drink wine) and Llevar can also mean to wear (ex. llevar ropa – to wear clothes). When you think of the Spanish verb Tomar, think of using something. And when you think of the Spanish verb Llevar, think of carrying something. Let’s go over some examples!


* tomar el autobus – to take the bus (Tomo el autobus cada viernes – I take the bus every Friday)

* tomar una ducha – to take a shower (No quiere tomar una ducha – He doesn’t want to take a shower). ** Note that ducharse also means to take a shower.

* tomar pastillas – to take pills (Necesito tomar mis pastillas – I need to take my pills)

tomar tiempo – to take time (Tú tomas demasiado tiempo – You take too much time).

Did you notice that in each of these examples of using Tomar to express “to take” the underlying idea is to use something.


* llevar los hijos – to take the kids (Voy a llevar a mis hijos afuera – I’m going to take my kids outside)

* llevar el radio – to take the radio (Lleva el radio contigo – Take the radio with you)

As you can see in these two examples of using Llevar to say “to take” the underlying idea is carrying something physically.