Spanish Grammar Tip – Time expressions

Spanish Grammar TipTime expressions in Spanish

Desde and hace are two expressions of time widely used in Spanish to place a past action in the present.

How to use Hace:

Hace emphasises how long has elapsed since an event occurred and terminated in the past. For this, the sentence features a verb in the past tense and a lenght of time following hace.

SPANISHENGLISH
Me mudé a Cadiz hace cuatro meses.I moved to Cadiz four months ago.
Amparo estudió francés hace diez años. Amparo studied French ten years ago.

How to use Desde:

On the other hand, desde indicates a specific moment in the past in which the event took place. Unlike in English, here the verb must be conjugated in the present.

SPANISHENGLISH
Vivo en Madrid desde el año 2010.I have lived in Madrid since 2010.
Salís con Juan desde el mes pasado.You lot have been hanging out with Juan since last month.

Time expressions in Spanish. How to use Desde and Hace combined:

Lastly, when employing both expressions combined, i.e. desde hace, the duration of an event that started in the past and still continues at the moment of speaking is stressed.

Therefore, this time expression is followed by a precise lenght of time, whilst the verb of the sentence is in the present tense.

SPANISHENGLISH
Vivo en Cancún desde hace diez años.I have been living in Cancún for ten years.
Estudiamos español desde hace tres semanas.We have been studying Spanish for three weeks.

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