Using 'Llevar'

Meanings Have Expanded Beyond 'To Carry'

Suerte shirt
Voy a llevar esta camisa. (I'm going to wear this shirt.). Photo by Raos; licensed via Creative Commons.

Once upon a time, the Spanish verb llevar meant primarily to carry a heavy burden. However, it has become one of the most flexible verbs in the language, used not only in discussing what a person carries, but also what a person wears, has, does, tolerates or moves. As a result, it isn't always easy to tell what llevar means out of context. To make matters worse, it also is a part of a number of idiomatic phrases that don't have a lot to do with carrying.

Here are a number of examples of llevar in use, along with possible translations. Each item in the list shows the expression using llevar, a common meaning and examples in Spanish with a translation to English:

llevar (algo) — to carry (something) — No puedo llevar nada más. I can't carry anything else.

llevar, llevar encima — to have on one's person — En ese momento me di cuenta de que no llevaba dinero encima. At that moment I realized that I didn't have any money on me.

llevar (algo) — to take or move (something) — Voy a llevar los platos al sótano. I'm going to take the dishes to the basement.

llevar (algo) — to tolerate, cope or deal with (something) — Lleva muy bien las derrotas. He puts up with defeat very well.

llevar (algo or a alguien) — to transport (something or someone) — Pedro nos llevó al aeropuerto. Pedro took us to the airport.

llevar (ropa o estilo) — to wear (clothing or style), to sport (a type of clothing or style) — No es necesario llevar el sombrero.

It isn't necessary to wear your hat. Ha decidido llevar la barba. He has decided to sport a beard.

llevar (ingrediente) — to have or include (an ingredient) — A mi madre le gusta todo lo que lleva chocolate. My mother likes anything with chocolate in it.

llevar a (algo) — to lead to (something) — La mediación papal llevó a la paz entre Argentina y Chile.

The pope's mediation led to peace between Argentina and Chile. Me llevó a creer que es inteligente. She led me to believe she is intelligent.

llevar (un vehículo) — to drive (a vehicle) — Llevó el coche a Madrid. She drove the car to Madrid.

llevar (una organización o una empresa) — to direct, run or lead (an organization or business) — Ingrid lleva la tienda de artesanía. Ingrid runs the artists' store.

llevar (un nombre) — to bear (a name) — Una calle de Candelaria lleva el nombre de José Rodríguez Ramírez. A Candelaria street bears the name of José Rodríguez Ramírez.

llevar cuenta — to keep account — ¿Quién lleva cuenta del resultado? Who's keeping track of the score?

llevar (tiempo) — to last (time) — Llevo meses diciendo que hay metodologias alternativas. I've been saying for months there are other ways. Llevo tres días sin dormir. I've gone three days without sleeping.

llevar (dinero) — to charge (money) — El revendedor me llevó mucho dinero por los boletos. The scalper charged me a lot of money for the tickets.

para llevar — "to go" (as in takeout food) — Quisiera dos hamburguesas para llevar. I'd like two hamburgers to go.

llevarse — to get along with or be suitable for — Nos llevamos bien.

We get along well together. No se lleva bien con su madre. He doesn't get along well with his mother. Este año se lleva bien los pantalones cortos. Short pants are in style this year.

llevarse (algo) — to take (something) — Llévatelo. Take it with you. Quisiera llevarme la flor. I'd like to take the flower with me.

llevarse (algo) — to receive or win (something) — Se llevó el premio Nobel. She won the Nobel Prize.