Confusing Touch and Take in Medical Spanish

Confusing Touch and Take in Medical Spanish
Take vs Touch in Spanish

It’s easy to confuse the verbs Touch (tocar) and Take (tomar) in your medical Spanish clinical conversations… but it’s also a quick fix.

The problem is that tocar with that hard /k/ in it sounds so much like “take”, but you have to use Tomar for take and Tocar for touch. Here is the Video Viernes lesson I taught today that goes a little deeper.

“Take versus Touch” in Spanish

Before we jump in…

A quick reminder that we are starting our free 10 day masterclass for this fall. It’s 10 days 4 free cme credits, all you have to do is get signed up. So go to the registration page to get registered for it. It’s 10 days: three lessons you work through on your own time and then two live classes on zoom together so don’t miss out. It starts August 26th. We do it twice a year: once in the fall, once in the winter, so I hope you can make it and join us in the free masterclass!

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This is a simple little error, it happens all the time and it happens mostly with people who’ve been around Spanish. You know a lot, and you speak a lot but you make a simple mistake. You are not the only one if you have accidentally said touch instead of take.

So let’s let’s take a look at esta lección. What’s wrong with this instruction? Let’s take a look at it:

“Usted necesita tocar dos pastillas por dia.”

It should be: Usted necesita TOMAR dos pastillas por dia.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the verb tocar when people want to say tomar. So again, you’re not alone if you’ve made this mistake, but it’s a simple one to fix, so that’s the good news.

Let’s look at dos verbos that can mean to take in Spanish – two common verbs. There are other expressions that use the word take like “take it easy” those kinds of expressions. We’re not going to get into all those idiomatic expressions, but two common verbs for take are:

  • Primero tenemos TOMAR. Tomar is like take food, take drink or grab an object – you know like to take it from someone. For example ¿toma usted medicamento todo los dias? Do you take any medications every day? Maybe that’s a question you might ask your patients. And here’s another example “ah sí, tengo su receta para los antibióticos… Here I’ve got your your prescription for antibiotics… “Tome” here, take it.
  • And then LLEVAR. Llevar is another verb to take that you may or may not be aware of but llevar is to take something to another destination, when we were talking about “carry” something to another destination. Here is an example: Usted puede llevar esta receta a cualquier farmacia para comprar los antibióticos. Usted puede llevar esta receta… “you can” in english we would say “take” this prescription. Usted puede llevar esta receta a cualquier farmacia (to any pharmacy) para comprar los antibióticos (to buy the antibiotics).

So we have two common verbs for “take” en español. We’ve got TOMAR and LLEVAR.

Okay and then we only have one verb to touch in Spanish so that’s super easy and that’s TOCAR.

  • Es mejor no tocar la cara ni la boca antes de lavarse las manos (before washing your hands), así evita varias bacterias. That way you avoid some bacteria various bacteria.
  • Voy a tocarle el cuello para examinarle las glándulas. I’m going to touch your neck to examine your glands.

So there is just one verb for to touch en espanol. And TOCAR, even though it sounds like “take” with that hard c there, it’s not take, tomar is take.

¿Preguntas? If you have any questions post them in the comment section below we’ll be happy to answer them for you.

And don’t forget about the 10-day Medical Spanish Masterclass. So go to the registration page to get registered for it.

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Rory Foster
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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3 responses to “Confusing Touch and Take in Medical Spanish

Carol O'Shea

Una diapositiva dice “Usted necesitAR tocar 2 pastillas por día”
Seguro que es un erro tipográfico.

Rory Foster

Uy … sí… dos veces el mismo error tipográfico. Gracias por mencionarlo. De acuerdo, la frase tiene que ser “Usted necesita…” not “usted necesitar”

kathleen gaffney gaffney

Excellent video, as usual. The one I have more confusion with is llevar vs traer.
Ejemplo: Llleva o traiga esta papel al especialista. Thanks o Gracias!

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