How To Use The Verb "Llamar" In Spanish

Llamar is a Spanish verb that is used very often. At times it can cause confusion for people because of the fact that it has so many different meanings. So today, we are going to show you the many ways the verb llamar can be used. 

Why You Use Llamar With Names

The verb llamar means “to call.” 

But often, you will see the reflexive verb llamarse when using names in Spanish. 

So even though you learn “¿Cómo te llamas?” to ask someone, “What is your name?” What you are literally saying is, “How do you call yourself?”

Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense now or if you don’t know what a reflexive verb is…

The more repetitions you get with examples like the ones below, the better you will get. 

See more examples below:  

  • ¿Cómo te llamas? (What is your name? Literally means, how do you call yourself?)
  • ¿Cómo se llama? (What is his/her/your[formal] name?
  • Me llamo ________. (My name is_______. Literally, I call myself _______.)
  • Mi amigo se llama Carlos. (My friend is named Carlos.)

If you are getting started with learning Spanish, this is one of the first things you will learn.

The critical thing to remember right now is that when you discuss what someone’s name is — whether it be your name or someone else — you will be using the verb llamarse. 

Technically you will be saying, “I call myself” me llamo, “you call yourself” te llamas, and “he calls himself” se llama.

How To Use Llamar For “To Call”

As we just discussed, the verb llamar most often means “to call.” Frequently you will see this being used about calling someone via telephone. 

Here are some examples: 

  • Te voy a llamar más tarde. (I am going to call you later.)
  • ¿Tú me llamaste ayer? (Did you call me yesterday?)
  • Mi madre me está llamando. (My mom is calling me.)

But llamar can also mean “to call” in other situations. It doesn’t just have to be in reference to a telephone. 

Llamar can also mean “to knock” or “to ring” when necessary. 

See the example below:

  • Llama a tu hermano para que te ayude a poner la mesa. (Call your brother to help you set the table.)
  • Ella me llamó su amor. (She called me her love.)
  • Llamó a la puerta de la cancela. (He knocked on the gate.)
  • ¿Quién llama a la puerta a esta hora? (Who is ringing our bell at this time?)

The first example demonstrates someone literally calling or yelling for their brother to help them set the table.

The second example shows being called a name.

The third example is an example of the verb llamar signifying “to knock.”

The fourth example is an example of the verb llamar signifying “ringing” a bell. 

How To Use Llamar in a Figurative Sense

Llamar can also be used in a figurative sense, giving it the meaning of “to be appealing” to something. In other words, “calling attention” to something. 

See the examples below:

  • La idea de trabajar los fines de semana no me llama mucho. (The idea of working on the weekends doesn’t appeal to me much.)
  • Y eso es lo que a mí llama la atención. (And that is what grabs my attention.)
  • A este respecto, llama la atención en particular sobre el apartado j) del párrafo 3. (In that regard, he drew particular attention to paragraph 3.)

Words That Stem From Llamar

Now let’s take a look at different words that are related to the verb llamar.

Llamada has many different meanings. But the most common that you will see is that it means a call. Of course, a call can be via the telephone, or it can just be to summon someone to you, kind of like we saw in the earlier examples of the verb llamar. 

Example: Ni siquiera una llamada a tu padre en su cumpleaños. (Not even a call to your father on his birthday.)

Llamado is used when you want to say “named.” 

Example: El ganador de la lotería es un hombre llamado Luke. (A man named Luke is the lottery winner.)

Keep in mind that llamado and llamada, like the verb llamar can be used for various situations. 


As you can see, the verb llamar is very nuanced and can be used in many different types of situations. What we have tried to do in this article is to prepare you for the most common situations that you are likely to experience.

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