Quick answer
"Descansar" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to rest", and "leer" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to read". Learn more about the difference between "descansar" and "leer" below.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to take a break)
a. to rest
Tienes que descansar diez minutos por cada cuatro horas de trabajo.You need to rest ten minutes for every four hours worked.
b. to have off
Últimamente tengo mucho trabajo y solo descanso los domingos.I have a lot of work on lately and only have Sundays off.
2. (to be asleep)
a. to sleep
No pude descansar anoche.I couldn't sleep last night.
b. to nap
Él descansó un rato después de almorzar.He napped a while after eating lunch.
3. (to be buried)
a. to rest
En este lugar las almas desafortunadas pueden descansar en paz.This is a place where unfortunate souls can rest in peace.
4. (agriculture)
a. to rest
El campo descansa un año entero cada tres años.The field rests for a full year once every three years.
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A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to look through)
a. to read
Deberías leer las obras completas de Shakespeare.You should read the complete works of Shakespeare.
2. (to guess the thoughts of)
a. to read
A ese jugador de póker es imposible leerle la cara.It's impossible to read that poker player's face.
3. (computing)
a. to read
Se produjo un error al leer el documento.An error occurred while reading the document.
4. (education)
a. to defend
Leyó su tesis doctoral frente a un panel de profesores.She defended her doctoral thesis in front of a panel of professors.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
5. (to look through text)
a. to read
Leo antes de acostarme para relajarme.I read before going to bed to relax.
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