In a recent conversation with a native speaker from the Dominican Republic, she used the phrase "llevarle su vida". In the context, I took this to mean "live his/her life for him/her" or be controlling over what the other person did. Is this a correct understanding of the phrase?

  • Llevarle or llevarse or llevársele? Just to check, as there's a big difference. Who was the subject in the sentence you heard and who was the object? Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 1:26
  • @guifa I think it was llevarle, but I can't be sure. It was several days ago. The sentence would have been something like "Yo no quería llevarle su vida." which I understood to mean "I didn't want to interfere in his life."
    – javier
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 1:38
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2 Answers 2


This is probably subject to some regional flavor variation, and I'm not very familiar with Dominican Spanish, but here's my guess.

"Llevar" is sometimes used as drive or guide. In this context it could mean to make someone else's decisions.

I.e: I understand "Yo no quería llevarle su vida" approximately as "I didn't want to make his/her choices" or "I didn't want to be responsible for where he/she took his life to".

About llevar with this meaning, it's very usual. As in "llevar a alguien de la mano": take someone by the hand.

  • Wow. This is really interesting.
    – Diego
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 13:26

My guess is is that she was trying to convey what you guessed in your comment

Yo no quería llevarle la vida I didn't want to interfere in his life; I didn't want to cause him pain.

Your hunch is probably right, since you have most of the context of that conversation.

Nevertheless, the expression

llevarte la vida / llevarte toda la vida

usually means "to take a long time".

Contar todas las estrellas del cielo podría llevarte toda la vida

Estás pintando las paredes con ese pincel tan pequeño? Así va a llevarte toda la vida

Aprender bien takewondo te puede llevar la vida

Juanito está contando los granos de arroz de ese paquete. Le va a llevar la vida

Please, note that this expression id different from "llevar una vida" To life a live (e.g to live a life of excess, llevar una vida de exceso) or "llevársele su vida" Take his life .

  • También he visto otro significado como ser el enfoque principal de tu vida, o la cosa que te conduce en la vida. Pero no sé si el uso es común ni de su extensión geográfica Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 3:19
  • @guifa, si lo he visto usado de esa manera alguna vez ahora no caigo...
    – Diego
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 3:50
  • A veces llevar significa el tiempo que tardamos: Me llevó una vida, me llevó una eternidad, me llevó una hora... En ese caso llevar es take.
    – Paloma
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 20:15

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