Spanish Verbs: How to Use the Verb “llevar”

Spanish VerbsOne of the most used Spanish verbs is “llevar”.  According to the dictionary it  means “to carry” or “to take.”

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.

The Spanish verb “llevar” + gerund

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.

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