Using 'Levantar'

Verb Usually Means 'To Raise' or 'To Lift'

High temperature
Observa como la temperatura se levanta. (See how the temperature is rising.) This photo was taken in Seville, Spain, and shows a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Photo by Miguel Librero; licensed via Creative Commons.

Usually meaning "to raise" or "to lift," levantar can also be used for other meanings that at first may not seem related.

Levantar is derived from the Latin verb levare, meaning "to raise." As such, it is related to English words such as "levitate," "levity" and even "lever."

Here are some examples of levantar with its usual meaning:

  • Courtney levantó la mano porque quería hacer una pregunta. Courtney raised her hand because she wanted to ask a question.
  • Levantaron el coche en el elevador. They raised up the car on the hoist.
  • Levantó la taza con su mano débil. He raised the cup with his weak hand.
  • Observa como la temperatura se levanta. See how the temperature is rising.
  • Inhalar y levantar los brazos. Inhale and lift up your arms.

Levantar is often used figuratively:

  • Levanto la voz por mis derechos. I'm raising my voice for my rights.
  • Levantaban la mirada para ver a los extraños que llegaban. They looked up to see the strangers who were arriving.

In the reflexive form, levantarse can mean to "wake up" or to arise from bed: ¡No me quiero levantar! I don't want to get up!

In context, levantar can be used to refer to the creating or intensifying of an emotional reaction:

  • Era un héroe que levantó al pueblo contra los invasores. He was a leader who stirred up the people against the invaders.
  • Las expresiones de cariño mientras estuvo hospitalizada levantaron su espíritu. The expressions of affection while she was hospitalized lifted her spirits.

    In context, levantar can mean to suspend, adjourn or call off an event:

    • Las mujeres la ciudad norteña levantaron huelga de hambre tras alcanzar los objetivos. The women in the northern city called off their hunger strike after reaching their goals.
    • Se levantó el corte. The court was adjourned.
    • Rusia levantará embargo a la exportación de grano. Russia will lift the embargo on grain exports.

      Similarly, levantar sometimes means to undo or unmake:

      • La policía levantó campamento y detuverion a los manifestantes. The police broke up the camp and detained the protesters.
      • Pablo levantó la cama y abrió la ventana. Pablo unmade the bed and opened the window.

      Note: As is the case with most lessons on this site, sample sentences generally are adapted from a variety of sources written by native speakers. Sources consulted for this lesson include: Abel Cruz, Cibernika.com, Debates-politica.com, DGW.es, EscuchaMusica.com.mx, Maipu.cl, MCH.com, Mforos.com, NustroSalud.com, Rodrigorubiog, Tarot.tv, 1070noticias.com.

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      Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Levantar'." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-to-use-levantar-3079754. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, March 2). Using 'Levantar'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-levantar-3079754 Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Levantar'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-levantar-3079754 (accessed January 23, 2018).