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Llevar vs Traer


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#1 jimtaylor

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 04:53 PM

I got fed up of seeing my previous post on the forums list, so here's a new one:

 

In English we generally depend on the verb 'to bring' to talk about moving something from one place to another. In Spanish, you should be able to distinguish the use of these two verbs by following one basic rule.

 

Llevar is used to take something from where the speaker is to where the speaker isn’t.

 

Traer is used to bring something from where the speaker isn’t to where the speaker is (or is going to be, in the case of the future).

 

Example 1:

 

Say you're going to a Christmas party - that is, una fiesta de Navidad. What are you going to bring? (¿Que vas a llevar?) Well, your host might suggest:

 

Tráiganos una botella de vino, nada más.

Bring us a bottle of wine, that's all.

 

And then you might respond:

 

Bueno. Voy a llevar vino tinto.

OK. I'll bring red wine.

 

Did you notice we switched verbs there? Both llevar and traer can mean "to bring," but with a crucial difference in perspective.

 

If you're the one doing the bringing to someone else, you use 'llevar' -which also means "to carry."

 

If you're the one asking someone to bring something to you, you use 'traer.'

 

Be careful not to confuse LLEVAR and TRAER.

If you GO, you TAKE something.

If you COME, you BRING something.

 

Example 2:

 

Take a look at this sample telephone conversation:

 

Ana: Hola, Santiago. ¿Vienes a mi fiesta esta noche?

Hi Santiago. Are you coming to my party tonight?

 

Santiago: Sí, por supuesto.

Yes, of course.

 

Ana: ¿Puedes traer una botella de vino?

Can you bring a bottle of wine?

 

Santiago: Claro que sí. Llevo un Malbec Argentino.

Of course. I’ll take (bring) an Argentinian Malbec.

 

In the previous example we have to assume that Ana’s party is going to be at her place, or at least in the place she is at the moment of speaking. (We can also make this assumption because she uses the verb venir, which, like traer is used when talking about going to a place the speaker is.)

 

Now let’s assume for a moment that Ana is having her party somewhere else, other than where she is at the moment of speaking, perhaps at a restaurant downtown. She’s calling Santiago on her cell phone from the street. In this case, the dialogue would change to:

 

Ana: Hola, Santiago. ¿Vas a mi fiesta esta noche?

Hi Santiago. Are you going to my party tonight?

 

Santiago: Sí, por supuesto. Yes, of course.

 

Ana: ¿Puedes llevar una botella de vino?

Can you take a bottle of wine?

 

Santiago: Claro que sí. Llevo un Malbec Argentino.

Of course. I’ll take an Argentinian Malbec.

 

Here, Ana says ¿Puedes llevar una botella de vino? because the party will not be taking place where she is at the moment she is speaking with Santiago. We can further infer this because she uses the verb ir (¿Vas a mi fiesta esta noche?) implying that the party will take place somewhere else.

 

Example 3:

 

Hazme un favor: Tráeme mi chaqueta.

Do me a favour: Bring me my jacket.

 

¿Para qué?

Why?

 

Quiero llevarla a la fiesta de Navidad.

I want to wear it [or possibly: to bring it] to the Christmas party.




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