7 uses of the Spanish verb coger

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, ¿verdad?
Last semester you took a Spanish class, right?

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

Cógelo suave
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.

Take a look at the definition of coger on the website Así Hablamos and you’ll get a good idea of which countries use coger in that manner.   However, even in countries that don’t make a habit of using the x-rated meaning of coger, it’s still universally understood in the Spanish speaking world when used in that context.

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 just because you use the verb coger.   Context will make it extremely clear what you’re talking about.

The x-rated meaning aside, all of those countries know 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
I’m going to f@ck the bus

– ¿Por dónde, el tubo de escape?
Where, in the tail pipe?

Yeah, it’s a bit crude, I know, but if you happen to hear it,  now you’ll understand it and get a good laugh.

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 coger for it’s vulgar, colloquial definition.   But if you do run into someone who absolutely insists that you don’t use the verb coger under any circumstances, you can easily switch to different verbs to avoid offending them.

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 just you know, coger isn’t the only verb that can be used to refer to the act of sex.   Tirar, agarrar, and even comerse can be used to refer to the act of having sex.   Just like English, Spanish has more than it’s far share of words with double meanings.

And, that’s it for today!

Ojalá que les sirve.

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