Trouble with LLEVAR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!

Trouble with LLEVAR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!

MAURA
¿Llevas la navaja por si acaso?
(Do you carry your pocket knife with you just in case?)

CARLA
¡Sí, claro! Por cierto, Amanda preguntó si la podíamos llevar.
(Yes, of course! By the way, Amanda asked if we could take her.)

MAURA
Uff, vamos a decirle a Mauricio porque en nuestro carro va Alejandra y sabes que ellas no se llevan muy bien.
(Pff, let’s tell Mauricio because Alejandra is in our car and you know they don’t get along very well.)

CARLA
Cierto, ok, le escribo a Mau. Por fa lleva esto en tu bolso que a mi no me cabe.
(Right, ok, I’ll write to Mau. Please carry this in your bag, it doesn’t fit in mine.)

Did you catch how many times we used llevar? Many, right? And this doesn’t even begin to cover the variety of what llevar can do in Spanish. Actually, in researching this video, I was surprised to find out how crazy we are about this verb. Also, it is irregular and I know that can make it seem less amicable. But it doesn’t have to be!

Yo soy Maura, de Spring Spanish and in this video we’ll cover the many uses of llevar and its conjugation in the present tense through our beloved chunks, so as to make it way friendlier. ¡Empecemos!

1. When Llevar is used to carry things or people

From our opening dialogue, we already had some examples for this:

  • ¿Llevas la navaja? (Are you taking the pocket knife?)
  • Por fa lleva esto en tu bolso. (Please carry this in your bag.)

In both of these cases, we’re talking about things than can be carried or taken by someone. We use this verb like this all the time, even with people, as you can see here:

  • Amanda preguntó si la podíamos llevar. (Amanda asked if we could take her.)

This verb makes no distinction between carrying a bottle of water in your hand or carrying a baby.

  • No me cabe en la cartera, pero prefiero llevar la botella de agua en la mano que no llevarla. (It doesn’t fit in my purse, but I’d rather carry the water bottle in my hand than not carry it at all.)
  • ¿Por fa puedes llevar al bebé tú? que pesa muchísimo. (Can you please carry the baby? He is very heavy.)

Babies, cats… you get me. I actually don’t call Margarito bebé (baby), ever, but I do call him princeso. Though the correct word would be príncipe (prince), señor pompón (mister pompom), sargento (sergeant). Don’t judge me! How do you call your pet, if you have one? Let me know in the comments!

El único otro caso (the only other case) in which we might still consider it as something we carry with us, would be when it comes to clothing or accessories. Like:

  • Ayer me encontré con Alex. Estaba súper linda, llevaba puesto un vestido rojo que le quedaba increíble. (Yesterday, I ran into Alex. She was super cute, she was wearing a red dress that looked amazing on her.)
  • Llevo el traje de baño por si acaso, pero no me lo voy a llevar puesto. (I’m taking my bathing suit just in case, but I’m not going to wear it on our way there.)

Before we continue: for all of these examples, there are alternative verbs we could also use, but llevar is either the most common verb or one of the most common. También (Also): I could’ve said that the red dress looked fabuloso o de maravilla (fabulous or wonderful) on Alex. This increíble also has many alternative options, and whether you use one or the other is more of a personality choice. If you want to find the right one for you, click here to watch the video I made about increíble.

2. How to use Llevar to talk about periods of time

MAURA
¿Estás lista?
(Are you ready?)

CARLA
Ya casi. Me faltan un par de cosas para terminar el bolso.
(Almost. I’m missing a couple of things to finish the bag.)

MAURA
Pero si llevas como dos horas guardando cosas, ¿qué más puedes necesitar?
(But if you’ve been putting things away for like 2 hours, what more could you possibly need?)

CARLA
Pues, se necesitan muchas cosas para llevar una vida sana. Así que estoy llevando protector, mucha agua, un libro para el alma y algunas cositas nutritivas para picar.
(Well, it takes a lot of things to lead a healthy life. So I’m taking sunscreen, lots of water, a book for the soul, and some nutritious snacks.)

Before we talk about those chunks, keep in mind that at the end of this video I’ll be covering a slang chunk that is so Venezuelan that once you learn it, you’ll be able to recognize us for miles regardless of our accent, looks, or anything else. It is one of those undeniable tells.

Now, what do I mean when I say “periods of time”?

  • Pero si llevas como dos horas guardando cosas. (But if you’ve been putting things away for like 2 hours.)
  • Se necesitan muchas cosas para llevar una vida sana. (It takes a lot of things to lead a healthy life.)

In both these cases, llevar allows us to specify how long someone’s been doing something or what’s necessary for a period of time, like our lives. So, we can say things like:

  • Llevo tres días diciendo que voy a llamar a mi mamá y se me sigue pasando. (I’ve been saying for 3 days that I’m going to call my mom and it keeps slipping away.)
  • ¡Llevas toda la semana pegado a la computadora! Este fin te toca hacer algo de ejercicio. (You’ve been glued to the computer all week! This weekend it’s time for you to get some exercise.)
  • Llevo un agosto de un tranquilo que hasta a mi me sorprende. (I’ve had such a quiet August that even I’m surprised.)
  • Para llevar un mejor verano, es importantísimo adaptar nuestras rutinas. (To get through a better summer, it is very important to adapt our routines.)

Chunk Alert!

Te toca (it’s time for you to) can be literally translated as “it’s your turn”, but we only use it in that sense when there’s turns. So, with games, chores or things that can have turns. However, as I’ve used it, is more about something that should be done by someone because it is about damn time. For example, right now: me toca terminar el guión para este video porque tengo que salir pronto. (I have to finish the script for this video because I have to go soon.)

A ti te toca revisar el enlace en la descripción (It’s time for you to check that link in the description) so you can access our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit and get many more everyday chunks like this one!

3. Chunks with Llevar

One of these chunks we already had in our first dialogue:

  • Ellas no se llevan muy bien. (They don’t get along very well.)

This is the quintessential verb to talk about how people get along. Other things can be said, none will be as common.

MAURA
Pues, yo creo que con ese peso, te vas a llevar por delante a todo el mundo.
(Well, I think that with that weight, you’re going to sweep everyone off their feet.)

CARLA
¡Me da igual, Maura! Tú sabes que mi máxima es déjate llevar y las cosas fluirán de alguna manera.
(I don’t care, Maura! You know my motto is let yourself go and things will flow somehow.)

MAURA
Y la mía es llevar a cabo lo que digo que llevaré a cabo. Así que te advierto que, pese o no, vamos a llegar hasta la cima de la montaña, como sea.

(And mine is to carry out what I say I will carry out. So I warn you that, whether it’s heavy or not, we’re getting to the top of the mountain, no matter what. )

  • Te vas a llevar por delante a todo el mundo. (You’re going to sweep everyone off their feet.): This could be literal and physical like in the dialogue, or you could use it in the abstract to talk about people that have no regards for anyone and go about life that way.
  • Déjate llevar (To go with the flow): This is pretty straight forward. I would usually translate this as: to go with the flow in English.
  • Llevar a cabo (Carry out): This might be a little bit more formal, but not really. It’s all about bringing something to fruition.

Outside of this dialogue you might want to know we also use llevar when we’re talking about recipes. So:

  • Una buena salsa de tomate lleva albahaca. (A good tomato sauce requires basil.)
  • ¿Sabes si la receta del pie lleva leche? (Do you know if the pie recipe requires milk?)

Conjugating llevar in the present tense

Now, let’s use llevar a cabo (carry out) as our base chunk to create that little table we sometimes show you to clarify, but which we always tell you not to memorize! It’s way better to focus on the chunks in this video instead.

PronounVerbChunk
Yo (I)LlevoYo llevo a cabo. (I carry out.)
(singular you)LlevasTú llevas a cabo.(You carry out.)
Ella, Él, Eso (She, he, it)LlevaElla lleva a cabo.(She carries out.)
Nosotras/Nosotros (We)LlevamosNosotras llevamos a cabo. (We carry out.)
Ustedes (plural you)LlevanUstedes llevan a cabo. (You carry out.)
Ellas/Ellos (They)LlevanEllas llevan a cabo. (They carry out.)

4. Similarities and differences with the English translation

So, the literal translation of llevar is “to carry”. Let’s take a look at when this can actually work, and when translating llevar as “to carry”, won’t get you anywhere.

Similarities

You can use “to carry” to translate llevar when:

You’re carrying, as holding, things or babies:

  • Yo llevo los bolsos, tú lleva al bebé. (I’ll carry the bags, you carry the baby.)

To translate the chunk llevar a cabo:

  • Todas las tareas se llevaron a cabo con éxito. (All tasks were carried out successfully.)

Differences

You can’t translate llevar as “to carry” when it’s used for the big categories of wearing stuff on your body, taking people places, periods of time or any of the specific chunks we went over. So, not for things like:

  • Llevo puestas medias gruesas, ¿debería ponerme las finas? (I am wearing thick socks, should I wear thin ones?)
  • Alguien tiene que llevarme a mi porque yo no tengo carro. (Someone has to give me a ride because I don’t have a car.)
  • Llevas todo el día durmiéndote. ¿Dormiste mal? (You’ve been falling asleep all day. Did you sleep badly?)

5. An undeniably Venezuelan slang with llevar

CARLA
(Lifts the bag and falls)

MAURA
¡Lleva! Eso te pasa por no hacerme caso.
(Take it! That’s what you get for not listening to me.)

CARLA
Yo no puedo cargar esto, mucho menos para caminar por una montaña.
(I can’t carry this, much less to hike a mountain.)

So, this lleva is mostly used in this conjugation and in this context. Meaning you’d use it to talk to a (you) and right after someone gets hurt or kind of hurt. Es dificil de explicar. (It’s hard to explain.)

Just use it anytime a Venezuelan friend gets hurt somehow and you want to be a little mean, but in a funny way. You must master the funny part.

MAURA

Lo sé, por algo te dije que dejaras de meter cosas. Eso debe pesar como quince kilos.

(I know, I told you to stop putting things in for a reason. That must weigh about 15 kilos.)

CARLA
Qué exagerada, ¡a que no!
(What an exaggeration, I bet it isn’t!)

MAURA
A que sí. ¡Pésalo!
(I bet it is. Weight it!)

CARLA
Catorce kilos.
(14 kilos.)

MAURA
¡Lleva! Eso es por no confiar en mi.  
(Take it! That’s for not trusting me.)

As you can see, it doesn’t have to be physical, it could be emotionally hurt too. So, we could be talking about egos getting hurt as well.  

Let’s now practice conjugating llevar a little bit.

Try filling in the blanks:

  • ¿Será que _______ toallas o allá nos prestan? (Should I take some towels or will they lend us some?)

Correct answer: ¿Será que llevo toallas o allá nos prestan?

  • Ustedes ________ todo el día sin hacer nada, ¿no se aburren? (You’ve spent the whole day doing nothing, don’t you get bored?)

Correct answer: Ustedes llevan todo el día sin hacer nada, ¿no se aburren?

Alright, now, there’s plenty of other verbs which are a little universe in themselves, we’ve done videos on many of them, a recent one would be poner (to put) which is so basic and generic it can be used for surprisingly different things. Click the image on the screen to learn all about poner with me! Nos vemos allá. (See you there.)

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