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 of — tomar — Tomó 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 else — llevar — Le llevo las manzanas a Susana. I'm taking the apples to Susana.
- to take = to transport (a person) — llevar — Llevó a Susana al aeropuerto. She took Susana to the airport.
- to take = to remove, to pick — coger — Cogieron 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 steal — robar, quitar — A Susana le robaron mucho dinero. They took a lot of money from Susana.
- to take = to accept — aceptar — ¿Aceptan los cheques? Do they take checks?
- to take = to subscribe to (a newspaper or magazine) — suscribirse, abonarse — Me suscribo al Wall Street Journal. I take the Wall Street Journal.
- to take = to hold — coger — Déjeme que le coja el sombrero. Let me take your hat. (See note at end of list.)
- to take = to travel by — coger, tomar, ir en — Tomaré el autobús. I will take the bus. (See note at end of list.)
- to take = to require — necesitar, requerir, llevar — Necesita 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 time — durar — No durará mucho. It won't take long.
- to take = to study — estudiar — Estudio 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 descanso — Vamos a tomarnos un descanso a las dos. We're going to take a break at 2.
- to take after = to chase, to go after — perseguir — El policía persiguió el ladrón. The policeman took after the thief.
- to take after = to resemble — parecerse — María se parece a su madre. María takes after her mother.
- to take apart — desmontar — Desmontó el carro. She took the car apart.
- to take away, to take from, to take off = to remove — quitar — Les quitaron el sombrero. They took their hats off.
- to take away, to take off = to subtract — sustraer, restar — Va a sustraer dos euros de la cuenta. He is going to take two euros off the bill.
- to take back = to return — devolver — No le he devuelto el coche. I haven't taken back the car to him.
- to take cover — esconderse, ocultarse — Se escondió de la policía. He took cover from the police.
- to take down = to dismantle — desmontar — Desmontaron la valla publicitaria. They took the billboard down.
- to take an exam or test — presentar un examen, presentarse a un examen — El otro día me presenté a un examen. The other day I took a test.
- to take down, to take notes — anotar, escribir, tomar apuntes — Quiero que escriba la información. I want you to take down the information.
- to take (someone) for — tomar por — Ud. no me tomaría por un chef. You wouldn't take me for a chef.
- to take in = to deceive — engañar — Me engañé por el farsante. I was taken in by a liar.
- to take in = to understand — comprender — No pudo comprenderlo. He couldn't take it in.
- to take in = to include — incluir, abarcar — El parque incluye dos lagos. The park takes in two lakes.
- to take in = to provide lodging for — acoger — Mi madre acoge a muchos gatos. My mother takes in many cats.
- to take off = to go away — irse — Se fue como un murciélago. He took off like a bat.
- to take off weight — adelgazar — Adelgaza por la actividad física. He is taking off weight through physical activity.
- to take on = to accept or assume (responsibilities) — aceptar, asumir — No puedo aceptar la responsabilidad. I can't accept the responsibility.
- to take on = to employ — emplear, coger — Empleamos dos trabajadores. We took on two workers. (See note above.)
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.)
More examples of translating "to take" are on the following page.