Grammar & Games

Difficult words in Spanish


The process of learning Spanish is a different process for everyone. Some people struggle with verb tenses, others recalling the order of words.  Still others just recalling all those different words: you will definitely need to find creative ways to remember different words (or "palabras"). This is specially true for a few verbs that sound and are spelt very similarly ―and so difficult to remember!

Three in particular: llegar (to arrive), llamar (to call) and llevar (to take). As you can see, the three sound and appear pretty similar but have very different meanings. But at least two are included in pretty common Spanish phrases that you will probably learn in your first few weeks in a country.

The first will be of course: Cómo te llamas (what are you called) and Me llamo (I call myself). From these two, it's easy to remember llamar (to call) in all meanings of the word. So whenever you are struggling to remember the meaning of llamar, try to think the word in context.

The second common use of these words will be Para llevar (to take away) ―which you will say whenever you visit a café/panadería/restaurant and you want to take your food away with you. In this case it becomes obvious that llevar is the physical act of taking something away from a place.  So whenever you are taking something with you to another place, that would be llevar, like in  LLevo sandwiches para el picnic (I'll bring/take sandwiches for the picnic).  

Finally you have llegar. By using the other two phrases (in your head at least) to recall the other two words, you can eliminate the other options and recall that llegar means to arrive!