Llevar or Llevarse: Different Scenarios For Each Verb

Llevar or Llevarse

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As a Spanish student, you will have almost certainly come across llever or llevarse being used in a variety of ways.

Although the only thing that separates these versatile verbs at first glance, is the reflexive pronoun “se”, both verbs are used quite differently, which is one reason that many Spanish students tend to confuse them.

Let’s break the main use of each verb.

Llevar is the Spanish verb for “to carry” or “to take” and is used when speaking about moving or transporting something or someone from one place to another.

  • We are going to take the children to school – Vamos a llevar a los niños al colegio
  • I’m going to take the car to the mechanic – Voy a llevar el carro al mecánico

Llevarse is the Spanish verb for “to take away” and as a reflexive verb indicates that the subject of the sentence is performing the action. So, llevarse is used when the subject is doing the action of carrying or taking something for themselves.

  • I took your new shoes – Me llevé tus zapatos nuevos
  • The thief took my wallet – El ladrón se llevó mi cartera

That is the basic, 5-second overview of each verb.

In reality, both of these verbs are used to express more concepts, which don’t necessarily relate to moving or transporting something.

Let’s dive in.

How To Use Llevar

As you know, the verb Llevar is used to express transporting or moving something or someone from one place to another.

But that’s not the only way this verb is used, as you’re about to see.

1) To talk about transporting something or someone to a new place

  • I’m going to take the dog to the vet – Voy a llevar al perro al veterinario
  • I will bring food for all – Yo llevaré comida para todos
  • Yesterday I took the car to repair – Ayer llevé el carro a reparación
  • I’m taking my sister to the airport – Estoy llevando a mi hermana al aeropuerto

2) To talk about the passage of time

When we use the verb Llevar to talk about time, it is a way of replacing the verb Tener.

Both verbs are interchangeable when speaking about how much time you have been doing something

Let’s see some examples:

LLEVAR English equivalent TENER English equivalent
Llevo dos horas tratando de comunicarme contigo I’ve been trying to communicate with you for two hours Tengo dos horas tratando de comunicarme contigo I have two hours trying to communicate with you
Llevamos dos semanas esperando por una respuesta We’ve been waiting two weeks for an answer. Tenemos dos semanas esperando por una respuesta We have two weeks waiting for an answer

Let´s see more examples, only with Llevar

  • I’ve been studying in Baselang for 3 years – Llevo 3 años estudiando en Baselang
  • We’ve been waiting for the flight four hours. – Llevamos 4 horas esperando el vuelo
  • She hasn’t called in two days. – Ella lleva 2 días sin llamarnos
  • The dogs had been without eating for three days – Los perros llevaban 3 días sin comer

3) To indicate what we are wearing

You may know the verb Vestir as “to dress”, which is correct, but it’s much more common to hear Llevar used when we want to talk about what we are wearing or how we’re dressed.

  • I’m wearing a white shirt – Llevo una camisa blanca
  • I will wear a black dress for the party – Yo llevaré un vestido negro para la fiesta
  • I’m going to take my running shoes – Voy a llevar mis zapatos de correr

5) To indicate that we will bring something with us to some place

  • Remember to carry your passport in your hand – Recuerda llevar tu pasaporte en la mano
  • I carry my credit card in case I need it – Llevo mi tarjeta de crédito en caso de necesitarla
  • I carry my pen – Yo llevo mi bolígrafo
  • Do you carry the sunscreen in your bag? – ¿Llevas el protector solar en tu bolso?

6) To talk about food

If you find yourself in the kitchen, then you’ll use Llevar to talk about ingredients.

  • Does this cake have an egg? – ¿Esta torta lleva huevo?
  • The milkshake has ice cream – La merengada lleva helado
  • This pizza doesn’t have tomato – Esta pizza no lleva tomate
  • What’s in this paella? – ¿Qué lleva esta paella?

7) When you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time

And finally, this one is similar to what we mentioned in point 2.

We use the verb Llevar present progressive to indicate that we have been doing an action for a long time, and the action is ongoing.

Formula: Llevar + verb in present progressive + complement

  • I’ve been living in Spain for 6 months – Llevo viviendo en España 6 meses
  • We have been friends all our lives – Llevamos siendo amigas toda la vida
  • He has been rehearsing all morning – Él lleva ensayando toda la mañana

How To Use Llevarse

Llevarse is a reflexive verb, but doesn’t always mean to carry or transport something or someone to somewhere, because the place may be optional, but it does indicate that we are taking something or someone with us.

Remember, the reflexive pronoun “se” makes this a reflexive verb, which means that the action is being executed by the same person.

Now let’s explore the many different ways that you can use Llevarse

1) Take something or someone from a place to take it with you

You can use Llevarse to say that you took something, either because you borrowed it, or for example, you saw something in a store that you liked a lot and want to take it with you (i.e. buy it)

It also works to express something being taken in a violent situation, such as a robbery.

  • I really like these pants, I’ll take it. – Me gusta mucho este pantalón, me lo llevo
  • The thief took all the money – El ladrón se llevó todo el dinero
  • My husband took the car this morning- Mi esposo se llevó el carro esta mañana

2) To talk about relationships with people

This may sound strange when translated directly in English, but Llevarse is commonly used to talk about relationships.

For example:

  • My mother-in-law and I get along – Mi suegra y yo nos llevamos bien
  • The manager is very rude, he is on bad terms with the whole staffl – El gerente es muy grosero, él se lleva mal con todo el personal
  • Dogs and cats get along – Los perros y gatos se llevan bien
  • How is your relationship with your sister-in-law? – ¿Cómo te llevas con cuñada?

3) To talk about what’s fashionable

  • Long hair is fashionable again. – El cabello largo se lleva mucho ahora, está de moda otra vez.
  • These winter grey colors are fashionable – Este invierno se llevan los colores grises
  • These shoes are very popular. All young men wear them – Estos zapatos son muy populares. Todos los jóvenes los llevan

4) To talk about an experienced feeling or emotion

  • He was surprised when he saw his son arrive – Se llevó una gran sorpresa cuando vió a su hijo llegar
  • We were very scared when the child fell – Nos llevamos un susto muy grande cuando el niño se cayó
  • I have great sadness in my heart to see him so badly – Me llevo una gran tristeza en el corazón por verle tan mal
  • Your mom will be surprised to see you – Tu mamá se llevará una gran sorpresa al verte

Llevar or Llevarse: Exercises

A) Choose the right option for every sentence

 Options: llevó – llevaré – llevar – llevó -llevé

  1. Vamos a _____ a los niños al cine (We’re going to take the kids to the movies)
  2. Yo _____ la pizza esta noche (I’ll take the pizza tonight)
  3. Ayer _____ a mi gato al veterinario (I took my cat to the vet yesterday)
  4. Mi hermano se _____ todo el vino que quedaba (My brother took all the wine that was left)
  5. La policía se _____ mi carro (The police took my car)

B) Choose correct or incorrect. Correct if necessary

  1. Esta pizza no lleva anchoas (This pizza does not have anchovies)
  2. Tendré 3 horas esperando por el gerente (I’ve been waiting for 3 hours for the manager)
  3. ¿Puedes decirme que me lleva esta pasta? (Can you tell me what’s in this pasta?)
  4. Llevamos viviendo 5 años en Perú (We have been living in Peru for 5 years)
  5. Él llevó un mes viajando por el Caribe (He has been traveling in the Caribbean for a month)

C) Fill the blank space

  1. El ladrón se _____  todos los celulares (The thief took all cell phones)
  2. La abuela se _____ una gran sorpresa en su cumpleaños (Grandma will have a big surprise on her birthday)
  3. Ellos _____ dos días perdidos en el bosque (They had been lost two days in the forest)
  4. Los niños _____ su comida al colegio (Children take their food to school)


A) Choose the right option for every sentence

a. Vamos a llevar a los niños al cine

  1. Yo llevaré la pizza esta noche
  2. Ayer llevé a mi gato al veterinario
  3. Mi hermano se llevó todo el vino que quedaba
  4. La policía se llevó mi carro

B) Choose correct or incorrect

  1. Esta pizza no lleva anchoas
  2. Llevo 3 horas esperando por el gerente
  3. ¿Puedes decirme que lleva esta pasta?
  4. Llevamos viviendo 5 años en Perú
  5. El lleva un mes viajando por el Caribe

C) Fill the blank space

  1. El ladrón se llevó  todos los celulares
  2. La abuela se llevará una gran sorpresa en su cumpleaños
  3. Llevaban dos días perdidos en el bosque
  4. Los niños llevan su comida al colegio

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