How to use the Spanish verb “llevar”


by Patrick Jackson – LearningSpanishLikeCrazy

According to a dictionary that I have, the Spanish verb “llevar” means “to carry” or to “take.”

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But I have heard native Spanish speakers use “llevar” to indicate a duration of time or to designate actions that began in the past and which continue into the present. And I have also heard them use the verb “llevar” to measure or indicate quantity.

Let me give you some examples of how I have heard Colombians and other Spanish speakers use the verb “llevar.” The first one is a question that “los taxistas” (cab drivers) commonly ask me here in Medellin, Colombia.

¿Cuánto tiempo lleva viviendo acá?
How long have you been living here?

I guess you could look at the question as
“How much time are you carrying here?”

My response is:

Llevo viviendo más de seis años en Colombia.

Or . . .

Llevo más de seis años viviendo en Colombia.

Both mean “I have been living in Colombia more than 6 years.”

There are two other ways the “taxistas” could ask me the same question:

1. ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que vive acá?
2. ¿Desde cuándo vive acá?

And there are also 2 other ways that I could have responded.

1. Vivo en Colombia hace más de seis años.

2. Vivo en Colombia desde hace más de seis años.

But here in Colombia and many parts of Latin America it is common to use the Spanish verb “llevar” + gerund (verb ending with “ing”) to designate actions that began in the past but that continue into the present instead of using one of the following two methods :

1. hace + expression of time + que + verb in the present tense. Or to form a question as ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que …..?

2. Verb in the present tense + desde hace + expression of time. Or to form a question as, ¿Desde cuándo …..?

Here´s example of how the Spanish verb “llevar” is used to measure or indicate quantity.

¿Cuántas páginas llevas leídas?
How many pages do you have read?

Llevo leídas tres páginas.
I have three pages read.

Or …

Llevo leída media novela.
I am halfway through the novel.

Here´s another example:

¿Cuántos libros llevas leídos?
How many books do you have read?

Llevo leídos seis libros.
I have 6 books read.