The common English verb To take can be translated in Spanish  with different verbs, but essentially with these two coger/tomar both verbs have a lot of uses, many of which overlap, but there are cases where you’d use one but not the other, like it happens in English and in any other language (eg. “tomar” is used to mean “to eat” or “to drink”, but “coger” is not used like that.) Trying to memorize these differences would be a tedious and difficult task. I suggest you learn how to use them in context, because they are quite similar.

BE CAREFUL! We can  use the verb coger only in Spain because in Latin-American countries Coger is a vulgar form, it means to make sex.


Coger means to take something or someone with hands or other prehensile organs, to retain, to support.


Tomar means to take something but especially with the meaning of  receive, and above all with the sense of assimilate, absorb food or drink.


Here some example:


  • to take = to get possession oftomarTomó el libro y fue a la biblioteca. He took the book and went to the library. 


  • to take = to remove, to pickcogerCogieron las manzanas del árbol. They took the apples off the tree.



  • to take = to holdcogerDéjeme que le coja el sombrero. Let me take your hat.



  • to take = to travel bycoger in Spain, tomar in the Latino-America, ir enCogeré/Tomaré el autobús. I will take the bus.



  • to take a break, to take a rest tomarse un descansoVamos a tomarnos un descanso a las dos. We’re going to take a break at 2.



  • to take after = to chase, to go aftercogerEl policía cojó el ladrón. The policeman took after the thief.



  • to take down, to take notesanotar, escribir, tomar apuntesQuiero que tomes apuntes.



  • to take (someone) fortomar porUd. no me tomaría por un chef. You wouldn’t take me for a chef.



  • to take in = to understandcogerNo pudo coger el chiste. He couldn’t take in  the joke .



  • To choose— tomar—Había muchas. Tomé el azul. There were many of them, I choosed the blue.



  • To take medicine—tomar— Recomendamos que tome ambas píldoras a la vez. I recommend you to take both pills.


But also

  • To have breakfast, lunch, dinner —tomar— tomar el desayuno, la comida, la cena.
  • to drink —tomar— tomar un café
  • to make a decisión —tomar — ella tomó la decision de no volver a verlo
  •  to take a direction — tomar— al llegar a la esquina toma por la derecha.At the corner turn to the right.