Today we’re going to take a look at the verb coger.
Coger has a lot of great uses and you should definitely add it to your toolbox of Spanish verbs.
Some countries use it more than others, like Spain, Peru and the Dominican Republic, and in other countries like Mexico and Argentina you may want to avoid using it altogether, but more about that later.
Let’s jump right into it and take a look at the many meanings of the verb coger.
To travel by
Cogí el bus equivocado y me perdí
I took the wrong bus and I got lost
¿Vas a coger el tren o el autobús?
Are you going to take the train or the bus?
¿Cogemos un taxi?
Should we take a cab?
To take or to grab
Hazme un favor, coge las llaves de mi bolsillo
Do me a favor, grab the keys out of my pocket
Coge un plato de la mesa
Take a plate off the table
Coge el que más te guste
Take the one you like the most
Me gusta cuando me coges la mano
I like it when you hold my hand
El semestre pasado cogiste una clase de español
Last semester I took a Spanish class
Cogí el dinero y me compré tres trozos de pizza y algo para beber
I took the money and bought myself three slices of pizza and something to drink
To take a day off work
Cogí el día libre para recoger a mi hija
I took the day off to pick up my daughter
¿Vas a coger unos días de vacaciones?
Are you going to take any vacation days?
To answer the phone
Contestar is typically used to talk about answering the phone, but it’s very common to hear people use coger as well. Not only that, it’s good to have options and switch things up once in a while.
Coge el teléfono por favor
Pick up the phone please
Nunca coges el teléfono cuando te llamo
You never pick up the phone when I call you
La llame pero no coge el teléfono
I called her but she’s not picking up the phone
To give directions
Typically tomar is the verb of choice when it comes to giving directions, but coger can work just as well.
Coja la primera calle a la derecha
Take the first street on the right
Coja la Salida 40B hacia la 93N
Take exit 40B towards 93N
To understand something
You’ve likely learned to use the verb entender to talk about understanding things, but you can also use coger.
Le contamos el chiste tres veces y seguía sin cogerlo
We told him the joke three times and he still doesn’t get it
No cojo la pregunta
I don’t understand the question
To pick up something
Cógelo del suelo y ponerlo en la mesa
Pick it up off the floor and put it on the table
Coge al niño, que está llorando
Pick up the baby, he’s crying
A few other things you can say with coger
Te cogí con las manos en la masa
I caught you with your hand in the cookie jar
Another way to translate that one could be:
I caught you red handed
Quiero cogerte a besos
I want to smother you with kisses
Si coges la gripe, la mejor manera de cuidarte es haciendo reposo en la cama y bebiendo muchos líquidos
If you catch the flu, the best way to take care of yourself is with bedrest and drink lots of liquids
Take it easy
There are many, many ways to use the verb coger, but those are the most common ones and more than enough to get you started. With that said, we’re almost done, there’s just one more thing we need to talk about.
Do you remember me mentioning something about countries you might want to avoid the use of coger in? It’s time to find out what that’s all about.
In several countries like Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay and Venezuela (and there are others) the verb coger is used as vulgar way to talk about having sex. And by vulgar I mean the equivalent of the F word in English.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but don’t panic. You don’t need to worry too much about people thinking you’re making a rude sexual reference. Context will make it extremely clear what you’re talking about. Not only that, all of those countries still understand the standard uses of coger you saw above, so if you’re visiting their country and you’re accustomed to using coger it’ll be fine, they’ll just know you aren’t from around their neck of the woods.
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be the butt of jokes like this one:
– Voy a coger el autobús
– ¿Por dónde, el tubo de escape?
El tubo de escape means tailpipe. I’ll leave the rest of the translation to you. Hopefully you’ll find it as funny as I did, although it’s a bit crude.
And being the butt of a joke is probably the worst thing that will happen if you find yourself using coger in a place or around people who primarily use the vulgar, colloquial usage of coger. However, it is possible that you’ll run into someone who will absolutely insist that you don’t use the verb coger under any circumstances. In those cases you can easily switch to tomar or agarrar to avoid offending people.
Now, I will say that if you plan on spending a significant amount of time in one of those countries, or moving there, it’s best you assimilate and become one with the collective. After all, when in Rome do as the Romans. Adopting the language habits of the locals (especially in this case) is always a good idea.
And that’s it for today!
Ojalá que les sirve.