Tomar conjugation, meanings, and expressions: A complete guide to Tomar in Spanish

To take or To drink: Learn Tomar conjugation and meanings

Get our free email course, Shortcut to Conversational.

Have conversations faster, understand people when they speak fast, and other tested tips to learn faster.

More info

Tomar in Spanish is one of the most frequently-used verbs in the language. We’ve prepared this post to help you learn the many uses and meanings of tomar, as well as to provide a full reference on tomar conjugation.

In its most-basic form, tomar can be translated as to take, whereas it’s also common to translate it as to have or even to drink. But what other uses are there for tomar in Spanish? What about Spanish expressions based on the verb tomar?

We’ll start our post off with the complete set of tomar conjugations. Then we’ll get into our comprehensive list of a dozen different meanings and uses for the Spanish verb tomar, followed by a list of important tomar expressions. At the end we provide a review of tomar being used in its different contexts and tenses, where we challenge you to practice the tomar conjugation you’ve just learned.

Now let’s dive in!

Tomar conjugation

As a regular Spanish -ar verb, our tomar conjugation is quite straightforward. We’ll provide the full tomar conjugation tables here, broken down into simple and compound tenses.

Check out our detailed post for an introduction to all the Spanish verb tenses, which includes links to specific posts on each tense. We can also point you to another post with a list of other Spanish -ar verbs that follow the same rules as the tomar conjugations we’re covering here.

Tomar conjugation: Simple tenses

In the following tables we present the tomar conjugation tables for all of the simple tenses. Notice that the stem of this regular Spanish verb remains unchanged in every single conjugation: tom-.

Subject Present Imperfect Preterite Future
Yo tomo tomaba tomé tomaré
tomas tomabas tomaste tomarás
Él, Ella, Usted toma tomaba tomó tomará
Nosotros/as tomamos tomábamos tomamos tomaremos
Vosotros/as tomáis tomabais tomasteis tomaréis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes toman tomaban tomaron tomarán
Subject Conditional Present subjunctive Imperfect subjunctive Imperative
Yo tomaría tome tomare toma
tomarías tomes tomares tome
Él, Ella, Usted tomaría tome tomare
Nosotros/as tomaríamos tomemos tomáremos tomemos
Vosotros/as tomaríais toméis tomareis tomad
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes tomarían tomen tomaran tomen

Tomar conjugation: Compound tenses

In the following tables, we present the tomar conjugation in the compound tenses. As you can see, the participle of tomar is tomado. And to round out our lesson on tomar conjugation, note that that gerund of tomar is tomando.

Subject Present perfect Pluperfect Preterite perfect Future perfect
Yo he tomado había tomado hube tomado habré tomado
has tomado habías tomado hubiste tomado habrás tomado
Él, Ella, Usted ha tomado había tomado hubo tomado habrá tomado
Nosotros/as hemos tomado habíamos tomado hubimos tomado habremos tomado
Vosotros/as habéis tomado habíais tomado hubisteis tomado habréis tomado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes han tomado habían tomado hubieron tomado habrán tomado
Subject Conditional perfect Present perfect subjunctive Pluperfect subjunctive
Yo habría tomado haya tomado hubiera tomado
habrías tomado hayas tomado hubieras tomado
Él, Ella, Usted habría tomado haya tomado hubiera tomado
Nosotros/as habríamos tomado hayamos tomado hubiéramos tomado
Vosotros/as habríais tomado hayáis tomado hubierais tomado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes habrían tomado hayan tomado hubieran tomado

Different meanings of the Spanish verb Tomar

As we mentioned in our introduction, tomar in Spanish is often translated simply as to take. This verb has such a variety of uses, however, that the best translation of tomar into English is often something different.

Here we’ll introduce the most common uses of tomar in Spanish, organized by meanings. We provide several example sentences demonstrating each one so you can see the wide variety of English translations for this versatile Spanish verb!

To take, To gather, To grab [something]

This is one of the most common meanings of tomar in Spanish, describing the action of physically taking something.

  • Toma tus cosas y vete a casa, es tarde. – Take your things and go home, it is late.
  • Maritza no tomó los documentos, fuiste tú. – Maritza did not gather the papers, you did.
  • ¿Han tomado las llaves de la casa sin mi autorización? – Have you taken the house keys without my authorization?

To take hold of [something]

This tomar meaning is very similar to the previous one, but doesn’t imply that the object being grabbed is going anywhere. Translations can include to take hold of, to grab hold of, or simply to take or to hold.

  • Toma mi mano, por favor, tengo miedo. – Take my hand, please, I am scared.
  • ¿Podrías tomar mis libros mientras ato las trenzas de mis zapatos? – Would you mind holding my books while I tie my shoelaces?
  • Anna tomó mi cerveza mientras yo estaba cantando karaoke. – Anna held my beer while I was singing karaoke.

To receive or accept [something]

With this meaning of tomar, the act of aqcuiring something is not very proactive, but rather quite passive. While the English translation may still sometimes be to take, this meaning is often better translated with verbs that indicate less agency in whether or not the taking was done by choice. To demonstrate this, here are some examples where we use to accept and to receive:

  • Nunca tomes dulces de desconocidos en la calle. – Never accept sweets from strangers in the street.
  • ¿Usted tomó el paquete de Amazon? – Did you receive the package from Amazon?
  • Ana no ha tomado bien la muerte de su hermano. – Ana hasn’t accepted the death of her brother well.

To steal [something]

This use of tomar is similar to others where we translate it as to take, but here there’s the added implication of malicious intent. The translation is therefore often to steal or to lift. A related verb is robar, which is the Spanish word for to rob.

  • La chica tomó las joyas y huyó del lugar. – The girl stole the jewels and then fled the scene.
  • No creo que él haya tomado tu reloj. – I don’t think he lifted your watch.
  • Tomar las cosas ajenas se considera un delito. – Taking someone else’s things is considered a crime.

To take over [a place], To occupy or acquire by force

This tomar meaning is used in the context of social movements, revolutions, or wars, when an expanse of territory is forcibly taken over. Tomar is not necessarily referring to the active stage of an invasion, but rather the occupation that comes as a result. To take over is a good translation in English, though to take is often understood to mean the same thing.

  • Primero tomamos Manhattan, luego tomamos Berlín. – First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
  • Los obreros están planeando tomar la fábrica, pero necesitan apoyo. – The workers are planning to take over the factory, but they need support.
  • Los griegos tomaron y saquearon la ciudad de Troya. – The Greeks took over and sacked the city of Troy.

To use a means of transport

This tomar meaning has its corrolary in the English word to take, used to describe what means of transport is being used for travel.

  • Debo tomar el tren esta noche. – I must take the train tonight.
  • ¿Dónde puedo tomar el autobús número 6? – Where can I take bus number 6?
  • Es mejor que tomes un taxi, así llegarás a tiempo al aeropuerto. – It is better to take a taxi so you’ll get to the airport on time.

To follow a direction

When giving directions in Spanish, we frequently use tomar to tell someone which direction to take. A synonym for this use of tomar in Spanish is coger.

  • Toma la primera calle y luego cruza a la derecha. – Take the first street and then turn to the right.
  • Raul estaba manejando y tomó la avenida equivocada. – Raul was driving and took the wrong avenue.
  • Es posible que llegues a tiempo si tomas el cruce de adelante. – You may be able to arrive on time if you take the crossroads ahead.

For more details on getting around, we recommend our other post on asking directions in Spanish.

To choose something from several options

Here we can use tomar when we make a choice between a few options. Though the meaning is to make a choice, the best translation in context is often just to choose. Other possibilities include to opt for or to go for.

  • ¿Qué camisa tomaste? ¿La azul, la verde o la roja? – Which shirt did you opt for? The blue one, the green one, or the red one?
  • Hay muchos tipos de cócteles en el menú, pero creo que tomaré este. – There are many types of cocktails on the menu, but I think I’ll go for this one.
  • No sabemos qué instrumentos son mejores. Creo que vamos a tomar la batería y la guitarra. – We do not know which instruments are better. I think we’re going to choose drums and guitar.

To take [medicine]

This tomar meaning is similar to the English version of to take, referring to the act of consuming or self-administering a dose of medicine.

  • ¿Ya te has tomado tu medicina? – Have you already taken your medicine?
  • Es importante tomar tus pastillas a tiempo. – It is important to take your pills on time.
  • Carmen está tosiendo mucho, ¿por qué no toma el jarabe para la tos? – Carmen is coughing a lot, why doesn’t she take cough syrup?

To check, To take a reading [of some bodily function]

This use of tomar is for when we take a reading of some bodily function. The best translation is often simply to check, followed by the function we’re checking (body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, pulse etc.).

  • Tómale la temperatura a Lisa, creo que tiene fiebre. – Check Lisa’s temperature, I think she has a fever.
  • Tomar el pulso de una persona es muy fácil. – Taking a person’s pulse is quite easy.
  • ¿Cómo aprendiste a tomar la tensión? – How did you learn to take a blood pressure reading?

To have a drink

These last couple of meanings are used specifically with food and drink. In fact, these uses of tomar in Spanish may even be the way the verb is used most!

In Spanish, we take a drink using tomar. This general term is distinct from the specific act of physically consuming the liquid: the Spanish verb for to drink is beber.

  • Es muy importante que tomemos 2 litros de agua diarios. – It is very important to drink 2 liters of water a day.
  • Vamos a tomar unas cervezas, ¿te anotas? – Let’s have a few beers, are you up for it?
  • Luisa y su novio están tomando vino rosado. – Luisa and her boyfriend are drinking rosé wine.

Note that this meaning of tomar is often underlined by using the reflexive form tomarse. The extra reflexive pronoun adds a certain emphasis, putting the additional attention on the action itself.

  • ¿Te tomaste toda el tequila que quedaba!? – Did you drink all the tequila that was left yourself!?

To have a meal

Along the same lines of our preceding tomar meaning, we also take our meals in Spanish using tomar. Likewise, we use tomar to refer to the general act of dining, as opposed to the specific act of consuming the food. For that, the verb for to eat in Spanish is comer.

  • Los niños tomaron el desayuno a las 7 de la mañana. – The kids had breakfast at 7 in the morning.
  • No creo que podamos tomar el almuerzo juntos, hay un trancón terrible. – I don’t think we can have lunch together, there is a terrible traffic jam.
  • Tomaremos la cena en la terraza. – We will have dinner on the terrace.

If you’re interested in dining out, check out our post on ordering food at a restaurant in Spanish.

Spanish expressions based around Tomar

So far we’ve seen a bunch of unique meanings of tomar in Spanish, though those were all when using the word on its own in each type of context. Tomar is also an integral part of many common Spanish expressions with specific meanings.

In this section, we provide you with a list of the most common tomar expressions in Spanish:

Tomar expression English expression
Tomar una decisión To make a decision
Tomar la delantera To take the lead
Tomar la iniciativa To take the initiative
Tomar acciones To take actions
Tomar cartas en el asunto To take actions on the matter
Tomar asiento To take a seat, To have a seat
Tomar la palabra To speak, To take the floor
Tomar el toro por los cuernos / por las astas To take the bull by its horns
Ser de armas tomar To be formidable, To be reckoned with
Tomar cuerpo, Tomar forma To take shape
Tomar en cuenta To keep in mind
Sin tomar en cuenta Without taking into account
Tomar [algo] a la ligera To take [something] lightly
Tomar [algo] al pie de la letra To [something] take at face value
Tomar [algo] a pecho To take [something] seriously / to heart
Tomar [algo] en serio To take [something] seriously
Tomar por sorpresa To take [somebody] by surprise
Tomar el pelo de alguien To pull somebody’s leg, To trick someone
Tomar a broma To take as a joke
Tomar a bien To take [something] well, To see the funny side
Tomar conciencia de algo To become aware of
Tomar apuntes [de algo] To take notes [on something]
Tomar clases To take lessons / classes
Tomar una prueba / examen To take a test / exam
Tomar una foto / video To take a photo / video
Tomar en préstamo To borrow, To take out a loan
Ir a tomar algo To go for a drink
Tomar el sol To sunbathe
Tomar aire fresco To get some fresh air


We’ve spent this whole post focused on one important Spanish verb: tomar. Let’s do a quick review of what we’ve seen.

We started off by covering all of the tomar conjugations, noting that tomar is a regular verb which exactly follows all the -ar conjugation rules.

Then we got into the various meanings of tomar in Spanish. We saw that although tomar is frequently simply translated as to take in Spanish, it is used in a lot of other contexts whose English translations are often different. The last couple of meanings we saw are probably among the most common, where tomar is used when we have a drink or a meal.

We rounded out our post by providing a nice list of Spanish expressions based on tomar.

We hope you took lots of notes. – Esperamos que hayas tomado muchas notas. Now you’re ready to use the Spanish verb tomar in all of its contexts!

Tomar conjugation practice

To finish off our post, we’ll leave you with a set of sentences to help you review many of the different tomar meanings we’ve introduced.

The exercise is easy enough, because we provide both the English and the Spanish translations. All you need to do is fill in the blanks with the right tomar conjugation for each one!

The answers are below, along with the the correct Spanish tense for each sentence.

1. We want to take a direct flight to Canada, but it is very expensive. – Queremos _____ un vuelo directo a Canadá, pero es muy caro.

2. Do you drink coffee or orange juice for breakfast? – ¿_____ café o jugo de naranja en el desayuno?

3. I don’t take the bus to work because I prefer to walk. – No _____ el autobús al trabajo porque prefiero caminar.

4. Karen’s grandfather takes his meds twice a day. – El abuelo de Karen _____ sus medicamentos dos veces al día.

5. Luis and his wife made the difficult decision to divorce. – Luis y su esposa _____ la difícil decisión de divorciarse.

6. What time did you have breakfast? – ¿A qué hora _____ el desayuno?

7. The player took the ball and passed it to his teammate. – El jugador _____ la pelota y se la pasó a su compañero.

8. Michelle and I took a lot of pics of the trip to Cancun. – Michelle y yo _____ muchísimas fotos del viaje a Cancún.

9. New York’s mayor will take action on the matter. – El alcalde de Nueva York _____ cartas en el asunto.

10. They will take an English course. – Ellos _____ un curso de inglés.

11. The driver will take the lead on the next lap. – El corredor _____ la delantera en la siguiente vuelta.

12. I will take my time to learn the subjunctive mood, it’s very difficult! – _____ mi tiempo para aprender el modo subjuntivo. ¡Es muy difícil!

Tomar conjugation practice: Answers

1. We want to take a direct flight to Canada, but it is very expensive. – Queremos tomar un vuelo directo a Canadá, pero es muy caro. (tomar infinitive)

2. Do you drink coffee or orange juice for breakfast? – ¿Tomas café o jugo de naranja en el desayuno? (tomar present tense conjugation)

3. I don’t take the bus to work because I prefer to walk. – No tomo el autobús al trabajo porque prefiero caminar. (tomar present tense conjugation)

4. Karen’s grandfather takes his meds twice a day. – El abuelo de Karen toma sus medicamentos dos veces al día. (tomar present tense conjugation)

5. Luis and his wife made the difficult decision to divorce. – Luis y su esposa tomaron la difícil decisión de divorciarse. (tomar preterito conjugation)

6. What time did you have breakfast? – ¿A qué hora tomaste el desayuno? (tomar preterito conjugation)

7. The player took the ball and passed it to his teammate. – El jugador tomó la pelota y se la pasó a su compañero. (tomar preterito conjugation)

8. Michelle and I took a lot of pics of the trip to Cancun. – Michelle y yo tomamos muchísimas fotos del viaje a Cancún. (tomar preterito conjugation)

9. New York’s mayor will take action on the matter. – El alcalde de Nueva York tomará cartas en el asunto. (tomar simple future conjugation)

10. They will take an English course. – Ellos tomarán un curso de inglés. (tomar simple future conjugation)

11. The driver will take the lead on the next lap. – El corredor tomará la delantera en la siguiente vuelta. (tomar simple future conjugation)

12. I will take my time to learn the subjunctive mood, it’s very difficult! – Tomaré mi tiempo para aprender el modo subjuntivo. ¡Es muy difícil! (tomar simple future conjugation)


Get our FREE 7-day email course, Shortcut to Conversational

The exact strategies you need to become conversational in Spanish this year. Join the course now, before we come to our senses and charge for it!

This blog is presented by BaseLang: Unlimited Spanish Tutoring for $149 a Month. Learn more here.