Beber vs tomar

Both mean "to drink" is there certain times to use one over the other? Or does it just up to personal preference?

January 7, 2014


beber means to drink and not much else, tomar translates as 'to take' or 'to have' or even 'to drink' as in: take medicine, have breakfast, etc

think of tomar as 'to take in' or something along those lines, from my experience there are situations where 'beber' would sound odd in place of 'tomar' but not many where the opposite is true.

January 7, 2014

okay thank you very much!

January 8, 2014

Although they both can mean the same thing, beber is strictly for consumption of liquids. Tomar, however is much more complicated [1]. According to priberam [2] dictionary, it can mean:

  1. Pegar em. - hold onto ;
  2. Segurar, agarrar. - grab/hold ;
  3. Conquistar. - Conquer ;
  4. Confiscar. Confiscate;

To name a few. There are many more uses of it [3]. So I advise novices to only use beber when referring to drinking, and gradually learning the meanings for tomar.

1 -
2 - "tomar", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2013, [consultado em 09-01-2014] 3 -

January 9, 2014

in Brazil we use "tomar" with many meanings: "tomar banho" - to take a shower "tomar nota" - to take notes "tomar conta" - to take care of "tomar medidas" - to measure something "tomar remédio" - to take medicine "tomar partido" - to take sides etc etc etc "beber" is mostly drinking... "tomar" always has to be complemented (tomar "algo"), while "beber" doesn´t... to go out with friends to drink something and party is commonly known as "sair para beber" ;)

February 4, 2014
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