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Time Expressions in Spanish


We are going to take a look at these expressions in combination with different tenses, expressing different ideas.

When we use: Hace + time duration + Present Tense, although the situation has started in the past, the action still continues.

For example:

–          Hace 10 años que vivo en Nueva York. “I have lived in New York for 10 years”.

–          ¿Cuánto hace que no vas al doctor?/ ¿Hace cuánto que no vas al doctor?

–          Hace 1 año que No voy al médico. “It has been a year since I last went to the doctor”.

But if we want to speak about the last time I did something, we have to use “Hace” plus Past Tense.

Hace + time duration + Pretérito Perfecto Simple: the action doesn’t continue in the present.

For example:

–          Miré “Titanic” hace 10 años. “I watched Titanic 10 years ago”.

So, 10 years ago was the last time that I watched Titanic.

–          ¿Cuánto hace que visitaste New York?

–          Visité New York hace 15 días. “I visited New York 15 days ago”.

Also, We can use the how old we were at that time.

For example: Comencé a fumar cuando tenía 18 años. “I started to smoke when I was 18 years old”.

If we change the tense of “ Hace” and we use it in Pretérito Imperfecto, we are speaking about a situation that has changed.

The structure is: Hacía + time duration + que no + Verb

For example:

–          Ayer vi a Tito. Hacía 3 meses que no lo veía. Yesterday I saw Tito. “It had been 3 months since I last saw him”.

–          Finalmente comimos sushi, ¿Cuánto hacia que no comías sushi?

–          No comía sushi hace 2 meses.

If we want to use one specific date, we have to use “Desde”. And in this case, the situation continues, starting in the past but continuing in the Present.

So, the structure is: Verb + Desde + Date

Or: Desde + Date + Verb

For example:

–          Trabajo en esta compañía desde 1995. “I have worked in this company since 1995”

–          ¿Desde cuándo vives en Paris?

–          He estado viviendo en Paris desde el año pasado. I have been living in Paris since the last year”. Often we say it using present tense, is not a wrong in spanish to say: “Vivo en Paris desde el año pasado. “ (is the same meaning)

We can use the age too, when we want to do reference at that time.

–          Leo novelas desde que tenía 12 años. “I  have read novels since i was 12 years old”.


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