gramática

llevar vs. llevarse

Similar to the case of ir vs. irse, the pronominal form (llevarse) denotes a delimited event focusing on the departure from the origin, while llevar normally focuses on the destination of the movement. In some cases, both may be possible with only a slight difference in meaning.

 

1) When neither the origin nor the destination is expressed explicitly, in the present or imperfect, llevar denotes an ongoing action that has no endpoint (atelic), usually translating as 'to wear', 'to carry' or 'to have'; in the preterite or other perfect tenses, llevar normally implies a destination. Llevarse, on the other hand, expresses a delimited event (telic), where the origin is implied, usually translating as 'to take away (with oneself)', or to 'make off with'.

-Yo llevo el dinero — I've got the money [Voy con el dinero; Véase llevar/tener]

→Yo me llevo el dinero— I'll take/I'm taking the money (with me) [Me voy con el dinero]

 

-Yo llevaba el dinero — I had the money (on me) [An open-ended activity]

→Yo me llevaba/estaba llevando el dinero — I was taking the money (away with me) [A delimited action seen as ongoing]

 

-Yo llevé el dinero — I took the money [In preterite, 'llevar' implies a destination, for example: ¿Quién llevó el dinero al banco?]

Yo me llevé el dinero — I took the money (with me) ['Llevarse' is far more common in the preterite, since it denotes a one-off action; ¿Quién se llevó el dinero (de la caja)?

-Llevaba un abrigo de piel — He was wearing/carrying a leather jacket [≈Iba con un abrigo de piel]

Se llevaba/se estaba llevando un abrigo de piel — He was taking (away)/making off with a leather jacket [Se iba con un abrigo de piel]

-Llevó un abrigo de piel — He took a leather jacket [In preterite, 'llevar' implies a destination, for example: ¿Qué llevó Juan de regalo?]

Se llevó un abrigo de piel — He took/made off with a leather jacket

 

2) When the origin is expressed, but not the destination, llevarse is usually the only option.

-Llévate esta mierda de aquí — Take this shit away (with you)

-Había un abrigo en esta mesa. ¿Quién se la llevado (de aquí)? — There was a jacket on this table. Who took it?

 

-Me llevé un abrigo de cuero de su casa

Llevé un abrigo de cuero de su casa a la tienda [With destination, 'llevar' is also possible]

 

3) When the destination is expressed, often both are possible. Once again, llevarse focuses on the removal of a thing from the origin, while llevar tends to focus on the destination of the movement.

-Lleva esto a casa de Juan — Take this to Juan's house [Focus on the destination]

Llévate esto a casa de Juan — Take this (with you) to Juan's house [Focus on taking something away from here; sounds like the person is already leaving and possibly going to Juan's house anyway]

 

-Como era su cumpleaños, llevó al niño a Nueva York — Since it was his birthday, he took the kid to New York

→Cuando se divorciaron, la madre se llevó al niño a Nueva York — When they got divorced, the mother took the kid (with her) to New York [Se marchó con él]

Se lo llevó a Nueva York

 

-La niña no se encontraba bien, así que la llevé a su casa [Fui con ella; la acompañé a su casa]

La niña no se encontraba bien, así que me la llevé a su casa [Me fui (de algún sitio) con ella]

 

-Voy a un botellón mañana en Granada. ¿Te importa que lleve el coche? — I'm going to a street party in Granada tomorrow. Do you mind if I take the car? [Focus on the destination of the car or driving the car ('al botellón)]

Voy a un botellón mañana en Granada. ¿Te importa que me lleve el coche? I'm going to a street party in Granada tomorrow. Do you mind if I take the car (with me)? [Focus on the removal of the car from the origin]

 

4) Llevarse is also used figuratively in numerous expressions, often translating as 'to get'. Similar to English, it can also be used when talking about 'taking sth positive away from a situation or experience', as in the take-home message or lesson learned.

-Se llevó una sorpresa /un disgusto — He got a fright/shock [See llevarse un chasco]

-Se llevó el premio de oro — He got/ received/ won/ walked away with first prize

-Se la han llevado presa — They've taken her prisoner

-La peor parte se la ha llevado Rusia — Russia has been worst affected/ has got the short end of the stick/ has borne the brunt of it

 

-¿De esta experiencia qué te llevas— What are you going to take away from this experience?

-Me llevo el cariño de los aficionados For me it's been all about /I'm going to cherish the love I've felt from the fans

-Del artículo me llevo esta última frase — This last sentence best sums up the article for me

Me quedo con esta última frase [In some contexts 'llevarse' and 'quedarse' have a similar meaning - see quedarse (con) algo]

 

5) Remember: the 'Se' in llevarse may be pasiva refleja, posesivo or some other use.

-El pantalón de pitillo se lleva ahora — Skinny trousers are in fashion

-Se lleva bien con todo el mundo — He gets on well with everyone

 

-Le lleva 5 años — He's 5 years older

Se llevan 5 años — There's a 5-year age gap

 

-El coche se llevó por delante a un perro — The car ran over a dog [See llevarse algo por delante]

-Se llevó las manos a la cabeza — He put is hands on his head [Dativo posesivo]

-Se llevó a cabo de noche — It was carried out at night [Pasiva refleja]

 

6) Finally, the pronominal form of the verb traer expresses a similar idea, suggesting that someone has brought something with them (away from somewhere else). See llevar vs. traer.

-Cuando se divorciaron, la madre se llevó al niño a Nueva York [Movement away from the speaker]

Cuando se divorciaron, la madre se trajo al niño aquí (desde Madrid) [Towards the speaker]

 

-(Te) He traído las gafas, ahora dame el dinero — I've brought (you) the glasses. Now give me the money

Me he traído las gafas, por si acaso — I've brought my/the glasses (with me), just in case

 

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-llevar vs. llevarse-

Cuando se divorciaron la madre se llevó al niño a Nueva York