Expressing time spans: hace, desde and desde hace

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Expressing time spans: hace, desde and desde hace

Hace, desde and desde hace are three different expressions to talk about time.

  • Hace (from hacer, to make, do) + amount of time + que + verb in the present tense: this expresses the duration of an action which started in the past and continues in the present. In English, the equivalent would be the present perfect: “it has been (amount of time) that” or “(subject) + has been + verb (ing) + for + amount of time”.

Hace dos años que trabajo en el Hotel Borbollón.

I have been working at the Hotel Borbollón for two years.

Hace cuatro días que no bebo café.

I have not had any coffee for four days.

  • Haceamount of time (verb in the past) expresses the duration of an action which has already finished. The equivalent in English would be amount of time + ago.

Conocí a Nacho hace 6 meses.

I met Nacho six months ago.

Laura te ha llamado hace cinco minutos.

Laura called you five minutes ago.

  • Desdespecific date or moment: expresses when an action started. The equivalent in English would be “since”.

Vivo en Barcelona desde junio.

I have been living in Barcelona since June.

Te he estado esperado desde las 10 de la mañana.

I have been waiting for you since 10 am.

  • Desde hace + amount of time: this expresses the duration of an action which started in the past and continues in the present. Its equivalent in English would be “for” + amount of time.

Estudio español desde hace 3 meses.

I have been studying Spanish for three months.

No hemos visto a Magda desde hace una semana.

We haven’t seen Magda for a week.

Note: hace… que and desde hace follow different structures but mean the same thing.

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