Spanish Verbs That Translate 'To Take'

Common English Verb Varies Widely in Meaning

Le llevo las manzanas a Susana. (I'm taking the apples to Susana.). Photo by Olle Svensson; licensed via Creative Commons.

If you don't know a foreign language very well, translating from your native language to the other language using a dictionary can be challenging and fraught with the risk that you will make a serious mistake. That is because there is seldom a one-to-one correspondence between words in different languages, except sometimes where one language has borrowed from another or where certain technical terms are used.

For this reason, it normally isn't a good idea to learn, for example, that one word in English "means" a certain word in Spanish. This is especially true with terms such as "to take," the focus of this lesson, which can be translated to Spanish in a variety of ways, depending on how it is used. Instead, your focus in learning should be based on meaning, not word-for-word translation. The verb in the phrase "to take a walk" doesn't have the same meaning at all as the verb in the phrase "to take pity on," even though they're represented by the same word in English. So it shouldn't be surprising that the verbs used in Spanish are different.

Here, then, are some common uses (certainly not all!) of the verb "to take" in English along with possible translations to Spanish. Of course, the Spanish verbs listed aren't the only ones available, and the choice you make will often depend on the context in which it is used.

  • to take = to get possession oftomarTomó el libro y fue a la biblioteca. He took the book and went to the library.
  • to take = to transport (something) and give possession to someone elsellevarLe llevo las manzanas a Susana. I'm taking the apples to Susana.
  • to take = to transport (a person)llevarLlevó a Susana al aeropuerto. She took Susana to the airport.
  • to take = to remove, to pickcogerCogieron las manzanas del árbol. They took the apples off the tree. (See note at end of list.)
  • to take = to snatch (from someone)arrebatar¿Te arrebató el sombrero? Did he take your hat?
  • to take = to stealrobar, quitarA Susana le robaron mucho dinero. They took a lot of money from Susana.
  • to take = to acceptaceptar¿Aceptan los cheques? Do they take checks?
  • to take = to subscribe to (a newspaper or magazine)suscribirse, abonarseMe suscribo al Wall Street Journal. I take the Wall Street Journal.
  • to take = to holdcogerDéjeme que le coja el sombrero. Let me take your hat. (See note at end of list.)
  • to take = to travel bycoger, tomar, ir enTomaré el autobús. I will take the bus. (See note at end of list.)
  • to take = to requirenecesitar, requerir, llevarNecesita mucho coraje. It takes a lot of courage.
  • to take = to require or wear (a certain size or type of clothing) — calzar (said of shoes), usar (said of clothing)Calzo los de tamaño 12. I take size 12 shoes.
  • to take = to last, to use timedurarNo durará mucho. It won't take long.
  • to take = to studyestudiarEstudio la sicología. I'm taking psychology.
  • to take a bath (shower)bañarse (ducharse)No me baño los lunes. I don't take baths on Mondays.
  • to take a break, to take a rest tomarse un descansoVamos a tomarnos un descanso a las dos. We're going to take a break at 2.
  • to take after = to chase, to go afterperseguirEl policía persiguió el ladrón. The policeman took after the thief.
  • to take after = to resembleparecerseMaría se parece a su madre. María takes after her mother.
  • to take apartdesmontarDesmontó el carro. She took the car apart.
  • to take away, to take from, to take off = to removequitarLes quitaron el sombrero. They took their hats off.
  • to take away, to take off = to subtractsustraer, restarVa a sustraer dos euros de la cuenta. He is going to take two euros off the bill.
  • to take back = to returndevolverNo le he devuelto el coche. I haven't taken back the car to him.
  • to take coveresconderse, ocultarseSe escondió de la policía. He took cover from the police.
  • to take down = to dismantle desmontarDesmontaron la valla publicitaria. They took the billboard down.
  • to take an exam or testpresentar un examen, presentarse a un examenEl otro día me presenté a un examen. The other day I took a test.
  • to take down, to take notesanotar, escribir, tomar apuntesQuiero que escriba la información. I want you to take down the information.
  • to take (someone) fortomar porUd. no me tomaría por un chef. You wouldn't take me for a chef.
  • to take in = to deceiveengañarMe engañé por el farsante. I was taken in by a liar.
  • to take in = to understandcomprenderNo pudo comprenderlo. He couldn't take it in.
  • to take in = to includeincluir, abarcarEl parque incluye dos lagos. The park takes in two lakes.
  • to take in = to provide lodging foracogerMi madre acoge a muchos gatos. My mother takes in many cats.
  • to take off = to go awayirseSe fue como un murciélago. He took off like a bat.
  • to take off weightadelgazarAdelgaza por la actividad física. He is taking off weight through physical activity.
  • to take on = to accept or assume (responsibilities)aceptar, asumirNo puedo aceptar la responsabilidad. I can't accept the responsibility.
  • to take on = to employemplear, cogerEmpleamos dos trabajadores. We took on two workers. (See note below.)
  • to take out = to remove sacar — El dentista me sacó una muela. The dentist took out a molar of mine.
  • to take one's word for itcreerNo voy a creerte. I'm not going to take your word for it.
  • to take over = to assume operationsabsorber, adquirir, apoderarseEl gobierno se apoderó el ferrocarril. The government took over the railroad.
  • to take a picturetomar una foto, hacer una fotoTomé tres fotos. I took three pictures.
  • to take pity oncompadecerse deMe compadecé los pobres. I took pity on the poor people.
  • to take prisonercapturar, tomar prisoEl policía le capturó el ladrón. The policeman took the thief prisoner.
  • to take up = to begin dedicarse aSe dedicó a nadar. She took up swimming.
  • to take a walk dar un paseoVoy a dar un paseo. I'm going to go for a walk.

Note about coger: Although coger is an entirely innocent and ordinary word in some regions, in other regions it can have an obscene meaning. Be careful with it.