Tomar in Spanish: Conjugations, Meaning & Uses


In this short guide, we will cover the following topics for ‘tomar’ in Spanish:

  1. What does ‘Tomar’ mean?
  2. ‘Tomar’ Conjugations
  3. How to Use ‘Tomar’ in Spanish
  4. Expressions & Idioms with ‘Tomar’
  5. Synonyms of ‘Tomar’ in Spanish

What does ‘Tomar’ mean?

Depending on the context, in Spanish, ‘tomar’ means ‘to take’, ‘to drink’, ‘to grab’ or ‘to make’, and as a result, it can be used in a wide range of contexts. Some of them include talking about drinks, medicine, transportation and decisions.

  1. When talking about grabbing an object, ‘tomar’ means ‘to grab’ or ‘to take’.
  2. To describe people who are consuming beverages, ‘tomar’ is translated as ‘to drink’.
  3. When talking about taking medicine, it is the direct translation of ‘to take’.
  4. If describing the kind of transportation someone took to get somewhere, ‘tomar’ means ‘to take’, ‘to get’ or ‘to catch’.
  5. To express people’s approach to certain situations, ‘tomar’ can be translated as ‘to take’.
  6. ‘Tomar’ means ‘to make’ when talking about making decisions. 

‘Tomar’ Conjugations 

In Spanish, ‘tomar’ is a regular verb. This means that the stem you’ll use to conjugate to every tense will be tom with the exception of the future and the conditional tenses. For these tenses, you’ll have to use the infinitive form.

Indicative

Present tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomoI take
TomasYou take
Él / Ella / UstedTomaHe/She take
NosotrosTomamosWe take
VosotrosTomáisYou take
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomanThey/You take

Preterite tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoToméI took
TomasteYou took
Él / Ella / UstedTomóHe/She took
NosotrosTomamosWe took
VosotrosTomasteisYou took
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomaronThey/You took

Imperfect tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomabaI took
TomabasYou took
Él / Ella / UstedTomabaHe/She took
NosotrosTomábamosWe took
VosotrosTomabaisYou took
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomabanThey/You took

Future tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomaréI will take
TomarásYou will take
Él / Ella / UstedTomaráHe/She will take
NosotrosTomaremosWe will take
VosotrosTomaráisYou will take
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomaránThey/You will take

Conditional tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomaríaI would take
TomaríasYou would take
Él / Ella / UstedTomaráHe/She would take
NosotrosTomaremosWe would take
VosotrosTomaréisYou would take
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomaránThey/You would take

Progressive Tenses

graphic showing how to conjugate tomar to present progressive tenses

Estoy tomando chocolate caliente.
I’m drinking hot chocolate.

Hueles a alcohol, ¿estuviste tomando?
You smell like alcohol, have you been drinking?

Perfect Tenses

graphic showing how to conjugate tomar to indicative perfect tenses in spanish

¿Alguna vez has tomado clases de canto?
Have you ever taken singing lessons?

Nunca he tomado el metro en mi vida.
I have never in my life taken the subway.

Tomar Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomeTo take
TomesTo take
Él / Ella / UstedTomeTo take
NosotrosTomemosTo take
VosotrosToméisTo take
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomenTo take

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoTomara / TomaseI took
Tomaras / TomasesYou took
Él / Ella / UstedTomara / TomaseHe/She took
NosotrosTomáramos / TomásemosWe took
VosotrosTomarais / TomaseisYou took
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasTomaran / TomasenThey/You took

Perfect subjunctive

graphic explaining how to conjugate tomar to subjunctive perfect tenses

Espero que te hayas tomado la medicina.
I hope you took the medicine.

Ojalá hubiera tomado más fotos del viaje.
I wish I had taken more photos of the trip.

Imperative

Imperative conjugation

‘Tomar’ in the imperative form uses the stem ‘tom’ but keep in mind that the negative imperative form follows the present subjunctive.

PersonConjugationTranslation
TomaTake
NosotrosTomemosLet’s take
VosotrosTomadTake
UstedesTomenTake

[‘Tomar’ in imperative] + [complement]

Tome asiento.
Take a seat.

Clara, toma tus cosas y vete. 
Clara, grab your things and leave. 

No + [‘tomar’ in present subjunctive] + [complement]

No tomes tanto refresco.
Don’t drink so much soda.

Niñas, no tomen mis cosas. 
Girls, don’t take my things. 

How to Use ‘Tomar’ in Spanish with Examples

There are several contexts in which you can use the verb ‘tomar’. In the next sections, I’ll explain to you what those contexts are and give you some examples to help you have a clear understanding of how to create new sentences.

  1. Describing that someone is grabbing something
  2. To talk about drinks
  3. Talking about ingesting medicine
  4. To indicate what type of transportation someone used
  5. Expressing people’s attitude towards something
  6. Talking about making decisions

Describing that someone is grabbing something

As the direct translation of ‘to take’ and ‘to grab’, in Spanish, we mostly used ‘tomar’ to describe that someone is grabbing or taking an object or another person. Below are some examples and a phrase structure that you can use as guidance.  

[‘Tomar’ conjugated] + [determiner] + [noun]

Victor tomó sus cosas y se fue.
Victor took his things and left.

Tomaré un bocadillo.
I’ll grab a snack.

¿Tomaste las llaves?
Did you take the keys?

Juan me tomó de la mano
Juan took my hand

Notice in example #4 that when something is holding or grabbing from something or someone else, you’ll need to use prepositions. 

Alice tomo a Karla de la mano. 
Alice took Karla’s hand. 

To talk about drinks

A very common use of the verb ‘tomar’ is to talk about drinks. In this case, when the sentence doesn’t specify the type of drink, people are usually referring to an alcoholic beverage.

[‘Tomar’ conjugated] + (complement)

Los invitados de la fiesta tomaron mucho.
The party guests drank a lot.

No, gracias, no tomo.
No, thanks, I don’t drink.

Cuando hace frío tomas mucho café.
When it is cold you drink a lot of coffee.

Talking about ingesting medicine

In Spanish, you need to use ‘tomar’ when talking about ingesting medicine and things like supplements and vitamins. As a result, in this context, this verb is also translated as ‘to take’.

[‘Tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Tomé paracetamol para el dolor.
I took acetaminophen for the pain.

Luis toma antidepresivos desde hace 6 meses.
Luis has been taking antidepressants for 6 months.

In these contexts, ‘tomar’ is frequently used as a reflexive verb, so you will need to add reflexive pronouns before the conjugated verb.

[Reflexive pronoun] + [‘tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

¿Sabes si se tomó las pastillas anoche?
Do you know if she took the pills last night?

Me tomé dos aspirinas pero no hicieron efecto.
I took two aspirin but they didn’t work.

Tómate una pastilla cada ocho horas. 
Take one pill every eight hours. 

To indicate what type of transportation someone used

‘Tomar’ is also used to talk about transportation. Notice that, just like in English, ‘tomar’ is only applied to transportation means that are being driven by someone else. As a result, ‘tomar’ can be used to talk about trains, planes, taxis (or ubers), and buses but not bikes or motorcycles.

[‘Tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Tomé el último vuelo.
I took the last flight.

Voy tarde, mejor tomo un taxi.
I’m late, I better take a taxi.

Para llegar al centro, toma este autobús. 
To get downtown, take this bus. 

Si tomamos autobús, va a salir más barato.
If we take the bus, it will be cheaper.

Take Note: We use ‘tomar’ to refer to taking a form of transportation when we’re the passengers. If you’re going to drive or operate the vehicle, tomar is used to let someone know (like a family member) that you’re going to use the car. 

Expressing people’s attitude towards something

As the direct translation of ‘to take’, we also use ‘tomar’ to talk about someone’s attitude or emotional approach to a certain situation. In this context, you’ll need to add one or both object pronouns, depending on the elements that you want to mention in the sentence.

[Direct object pronoun] + [‘tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Nunca te tomas nada en serio.
You never take anything seriously.

¿Por qué todo lo tomas en broma?
Why do you take everything as a joke?

Notice in the examples below that the situations that the sentences are referring to are implicit. So, in this case, you’ll need to add a direct object pronoun that will refer to that situation that all the other speakers already know about. 

You’ll also need to add an indirect object pronoun to mention the person that is being affected (or not affected) by this situation. 

[Indirect object pronoun] + [direct object pronoun] + [‘tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Se lo tomó muy mal.
He took it very badly.

¿Crees que se lo tomen bien?
Do you think they will take it well?

Fue muy vergonzoso pero me lo tomé con humor.
It was very embarrassing but I took it with humor.

Talking about making decisions

In Spanish, we don’t use the verb ‘hacer’, like you’d do in English, to talk about making choices and decisions. Instead, we use the verb ‘tomar’ which in this case is the direct translation of ‘to make’. Check the examples below so you understand how to apply this meaning correctly. 

[‘Tomar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Creo que tomamos la decisión correcta.
I think we made the right choice.

Él siempre toma malas decisiones.
He always makes bad decisions.

El gobierno tomó la decisión de prohibir la marihuana.
The government made the decision to ban marijuana.

Tomar Expressions & Idioms

An important part of improving your Spanish is understanding expressions and idioms, so here are some of the most used ones to help you have an authentic approach to the language.

Tomar al toro por los cuernos refers to handling a situation in a direct way and without hesitation. It means ‘to take the bull by its horns’.

Tomar el pelo is used to express a person tricking or fooling someone else. It could be translated as ‘to trick’ ‘to fool’ or ‘to tease’.

Tomar a pecho describes that a person takes something very serious and it usually has a negative connotation. It can be translated as ‘to take something to heart’.

Synonyms of ‘Tomar’ in Spanish

Beber means ‘to drink’. Although it’s also a standard term, people may use ‘tomar’ more often when referring to drinking something. 

Agarrar is translated as ‘to grab’. ‘Agarrar’ is a little bit more casual than ‘tomar’ so it is very frequently used.

Ingerir is the direct translation of ‘to ingest’. It’s more commonly used in medical contexts.

Decidir is the direct translation of ‘to decide’. So, just like in English, in Spanish this verb is formally used when talking about choosing or making decisions. 

Related Resource
How to Order Drinks in Spanish

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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