How do you say TAKE in Spanish?

Carlotta Cerri

Lately, all my students learning Spanish have been asking the same question. How do you say “take” in Spanish?In English, “take” has tens of meanings. Double that if it’s followed by a preposition (on, in, off, up…).

So I asked my students to make a list of ten sentences with “take” that they want to learn in Spanish. This way, I was able to narrow down the uses of “take” to three main ones.

  • Take as in “grab” or “catch”
  • Take as in “carry something” or “accompany somebody” somewhere
  • Take as in “use as much time as needed” to do something.

So how do you use it in Spanish?

1. Take as in “grab” or “catch” = COGER

This is probably the most widely used meaning of “take”. You can coger una manzana (take an apple), coger un taxi, un autobus (take a cab, a bus), coger una chaqueta (take a jacket), coger mi mano (take my hand), coger un número (take a number),coger un frisbee (no need to translate this one ;-).

2. Take as in “carry something” or “accompany somebody” = LLEVAR

If you want to take your daughter to her dance class you can say: Te llevo a la academia de baile (I’ll take you to the dance school).

If you have to take your dress to the laundry you can say: tengo que llevar mi vestido a la lavandería.

As my young students would say, Easy breezy lemon squeeze!

3. Take as in “use time” = TARDAR

"Take time" is actually an expression in English, as you can’t really *take* time. I decided to include this meaning, though, as it was the third most popular question.

If you want to say that it takes an hour from Malaga to Marbella you can say: tarda una hora de Málaga a Marbella.

There’s a twist, though.

While in English you say “IT takes HER an hour to get dressed” to specify that SHE needs an hour to get ready, in Spanish you use ella (she) in the first position:

Ella tarda una hora en vestirse (literally: she takes an hour to get dressed).

And, of course, you also have to change the verb accordingly.

Yo tardo 5 minutos en maquillarme (It takes ME 5 minutes to do my make-up).

Tu tardas 4 horas en hacer los deberes (It takes YOU 4 hours to do your homework).

4. Other highly requested uses of “take”.

  • Take a picture = Sacar una foto
  • Take a nap = Echar/dormir una siesta (very useful if you visit Spain)
  • Take a look = Echar un vistazo (good when you're shopping)
  • Take a holiday = Tomarse vacaciones (always good!)
  • Take a job = Aceptar un trabajo
  • Take a trip = Ir de viaje

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