Preparing for the 'oposiciones': collocations of to seize(to to grab/to snatch and related verbs.

Taking hold of

There are several verbs in English with the meaning of 'coger, agarrar' in Spanish, but they have distinctive semantic features. Here are the main ones:

to grab [ + suddenly, hastily; eagerly; with a bad/selfish purpose] (agarrar, coger, apresuradamente o con malas intenciones)
to clutch (at) [ + tightly, desperately, eager to keep or retain] [agarrar(se), sujetar(se) fuertemente, desesperadamente, aferrarse a]
 to cling (on) to [ + tightly, because you do not feel safe] [agarrar(se), sujetar(se) fuertemente, sin soltar, aferrarse a]
to seize [ + suddenly/hastily; violently, eagerly; forcibly; legally] (agarrar, asir; apoderarse de; embargar)
to snatch [ + suddenly/hastily, eagerly, rudely, roughly, violently; unexpectedly, without permission, as opportunity allows] [arrebatar, coger de un tirón, arrancar; aprovechar (oportunidad)]
to snatch at sth [ + try to take hold of sth; to take (an oportunity) eagerly] [tratar de agarrar algo; aprovechar (oportunidad)]
to grip [ + firmly, tightly] [agarrar(se) firmemente, con fuerza, asir, coger(se), agarrarse (un coche) a la carretera]
to grasp [ + eagerly, firmly, greedily; to understand] [agarrar, asir; empuñar (arma); apretar (mano); entender]
to clasp [ + firmly, tightly, closely, encircling] (tener cogido, apretar, estrechar)
to snap up [ + quickly, eagerly, avidly; accept (offer, bargain) quickly or eagerly]           [ agarrar, coger, comprar con avidez, aprovechar (buena oferta), llevarse (ganga)]

Consequently, they also have different lexical collocations:

to seize: to seize sth/sb (agarrar algo/a alguien); to seize sb by the arm/the throat (agarrar a alguien por el brazo/la garganta);  the opportunity (aprovechar la oportunidad); the throne/a country/territory (apoderarse del trono/de un país/de un territorio); smuggled things (incautarse de, decomisar, embargar artículos robados, de contrabando, etc.): the police have seized ten thousand pounds worth of stolen goods (la policía se ha incautado de objetos robados por un valor de diez mil libras); to be seized by panic/emotion (ser presa del pánico/embargar la emoción)
to grab: to grab sth suddenly (agarrar/coger algo apresuradamente), to grab at sth/sb (tratar de agarrar algo/a alguien), to grab sb by the arm/the hair/the coat (agarrar/coger a alguien del brazo/de los pelos/de la chaqueta), to grab a seat (coger sitio), a sandwich (coger un sandwich), to grab a couple of hours’ sleep (conseguir dormir un par de horas)
to grasp: to grasp sth (agarrar, asir algo), tightly/firmly/ (fuerte/firmemente), to grasp sb tightly by the wrist/the collar (agarrar fuertemente de la muñeca/del cuello), to grasp at straws (agarrarse a un clavo ardiendo), to grasp at sb’s shirt (agarrar a alguien de la camisa), to grasp (at) an opportunity (aprovechar una oportunidad), grasp all, lose all (quien mucho abarca, poco aprieta)
to grip: to grip firmly/ hard/ tightly [agarrar(se), asir(se), coger(se) firmemente/fuerte/con fuerza]: he gripped hard at the arms of his chair (se agarró con fuerza a los brazos de la silla); to be gripped by fear/panic (ser presa del miedo/del pánico); the car didn’t grip the road very well (el coche no se agarraba/adhería bien a la carretera)
to clutch: to clutch at sth (agarrarse/sujetarse a algo), firmly/tightly/desperately (firmemente/fuerte/desesperadamente), to clutch sth/sb  to one’s chest (apretar algo/a alguien contra el pecho), to clutch sth in one’s hand (tener cogido algo en la mano), to clutch at straws (agarrarse a un clavo ardiendo); to clutch at one’s beliefs/ideas (aferrarse a sus creencias/ideas)
to cling: to cling (on) to (agarrarse a algo/alguien, sin soltar): she clung (on) to his arm (se agarró a su brazo); the survivors clung to the floating wreckage (los supervivientes se agarraron a los restos flotantes del naufragio); she clung on to her baby (se agarraba a su bebé sin soltarlo); they clung together shivering with cold (se agarraron unos a otros temblando de frío); (aferrarse a ideas/creencias/costumbres/esperanza/la vida): they clung to the hope that they might see their son again one day (se agarraban a la esperanza de volver a ver a su hijo algún día); he clings to his old habits (se aferra a sus viejos hábitos); (pegarse la ropa al cuerpo): the wet shirt clung to his chest (la camisa húmeda se le pegaba al pecho); (quedarse pegado un olor): the smell of smoke still clung to his clothes (el olor a humo seguía pegado a su ropa)
to snatch: to snatch sth from sb’s hand (arrebatar algo a alguien), he snatched her bag (le quitó el bolso de un tirón), to snatch at sth (tratar de agarrar algo)
to clasp: to clasp sb’s hand (apretar firmemente la mano de alguien), to clasp hands (cogerse de las manos), to clasp sth tightly (agarrar/sujetar con fuerza), to clasp sb to one’s chest (abrazar/estrechar a alguien contra el pecho)
As you can see, in some cases there is a certain overlapping. Thus, for example, you can seize/grab/snatch/grasp an opportunity; manage to snatch/grab an hour's sleep on the train; clutch/grip/grasp  a bottle of champagne, etc.


Fill in the blanks with the right form of one of the following: to grab, to seize, to grasp, to clutch, to clasp, to grip, to snatch

a.- He............the edge of the seat as the plane took off.
b.- The judge ordered his properties to be ............
c.- That man .....my handbag at the High Street.
d.- I don’t think you just ....how serious the situation is.
e.- He managed to .....a ham sandwich from the plate.
f.- He .....his hat to stop the wind blowing it away.
g.- Agatha Christie's novels ......... you from start to finish.
h.- She stood with her hands ........ tightly together around her             knees.


a.- gripped; b- seized; c- snatched; d- grasp; e- grab; f-                  clutched; g.- grip; h.- clasped

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