The Spanish verbs ‘llevar’ and ‘tomar’ can both be translated as ‘to take’ in English but have different meanings and are only interchangeable in a limited number of use cases.
Use ‘llevar’ in situations when one is taking, by way of carrying, something from one place to another or taking someone to somewhere or an event. For example:
Llevo a mi hermano al aeropuerto
I’m taking my brother to the airport
El camarero lleva los platos a la cocina
The waiter takes the plates to the kitchen
¿A quién llevas a la fiesta?
Who are you taking to the party?
When ordering food or coffee to-go or takeaway, “para llevar” is used to indicate it’s being carried away rather than consumed on the premises.
Use ‘tomar’ when describing taking in something by mouth such as food, drink, or medicine, and also when taking modes of transport such as a bus, train, plane, or taking a particular road or street on a route. It can also be used to describe grabbing or taking an object in hand, taking some rays (i.e. sunbathing), taking photographs, taking a test, taking decisions and choosing an option when presented with more than one. For example:
Voy a tomar una cerveza
I’m going to have a beer
Ella tomó un taxi al hotel
She took a taxi to the hotel
Es tarde y necesitamos tomar una decisión
It’s late and we need to make a decision
Había muchos sombreros en la tienda. Tomé el azul
There were many hats in the store. I took the blue one
¿Tomaste el sol en la playa?
Did you sunbathe on the beach?
The Spanish idiomatic expression tomar el pelo means to grab the hair and is similar to ‘pulling someone’s leg’ in English when trying to tease, deceive or trick another person.