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Master the difference between traer and llevar Conversa Spanish Institute

Master the Difference Between Traer and Llevar

The difference between traer and llevar has caused many headaches for Spanish learners because of their similarities, and English isn’t exactly the same. Many students mix up when to use these two verbs, and although you’re understood by native speakers, it sounds a little funny.

Surely you’ve heard them both used, but can you tell the difference? Do you know when you should use each verb? Think about the contexts you’ve heard them in, and check out our tips below.

Traer vs llevar- Direction is key

When deciding whether to use traer or llevar, the first thing you need to decide is which direction the subject is moving the object. Although they both can be roughly translated to “to bring” or “to take”, knowing how the object is moving determines which verb to use.

If you’re bringing something from “there” to “here”, use the verb traer. However, if you’re moving the item from “here” to “there”, use the verb llevar.

First, let’s focus on the verb “traer”. The best way to think about this verb is that someone is bringing something to you. For example, you could ask someone, “¿Me puedes traer…?” to ask “Can you bring me…?” The other person is brining the item to you, so you would use traer.

On the other hand, llevar is typically used to take something away from the subject. This is why the phrase “para llevar” is used for take-out coffee or food. This is also commonly used when you need to take someone to another place. For example, “Necesito llevar a mi hijo a...” is how you would say “I need to take my child to…” because you are taking your child from here to there.


As far as conjugations, llevar is a regular verb, so there isn’t anything extra you really need to remember when conjugating it. However, traer has an irregular yo form- traigo. Not only does this affect the present tense, but it changes in the subjunctive, too!

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