‘Anoche’ in Spanish and Other Useful Spanish Terms for the Past
Anoche in Spanish translates in English to “last night” or “yesterday evening.” But what about antes de anoche? And does la noche pasada really exist?
In this blog post, you’ll learn all about how to talk about anoche in Spanish along with other time-related phrases that point to both specific and general moments in the past.
To help boost your grammar skills in describing the past, I’ll cover two main past tenses in Spanish:
And I’ll be sure to help you understand the difference conjugations and uses of each tense. At the end, I’ll provide some exercises for you to review your new knowledge.
Anoche vs la noche pasada
While you’re discussing last week’s goings-on, you’re quick to use the phrase la semana pasada—which is exactly why you may have fallen victim to a common error: saying la noche pasada to mean “last night.” The truth is, this phrase does not exist. While the meaning is definitely understandable, it would likely take a native speaker a minute or two to capture what you’re meaning to say.
When you want to talk about last night, you use the word anoche in Spanish.
Using ante and antes de
Both ante and antes de mean “before” in Spanish, but you use them in different ways. Let’s take a look:
Ayer (yesterday) becomes anteayer (the day before yesterday)
Anoche (last night) becomes antes de anoche (the night before last)
In the example above, ante is a prefix that attaches to ayer and other nouns to change their meaning.
In the example of antes de anoche, we need to dig a bit further in our explanation:
While “last night” in English is a combination adjective (last) + noun (night), Spanish uses a single noun (anoche) to describe the moment. Since “anteanoche” does not exist as a word, you will use the formula antes de + noun, which in this case becomes antes de anoche.
Antes de anoche
The night before last
The day before yesterday
PRO TIP! The short version of anteayer exists as antier and is a common alternative in Mexico and Central America.
More Time Expressions and Past Terms in Spanish
Along with anoche in Spanish, we’ve got plenty more time expressions and past terms to cover. When you want to talk about last week, last month or last year, these phrases will do the trick.
La semana pasada
El lunes pasado
El mes pasado
El año pasado
2 Spanish Past Tenses: Preterite vs Imperfect
The two most common Spanish past tenses allow you to specify the length and duration of an action. The preterite tense refers to completed actions, while the imperfect tense refers to an action that has happened continuously, or that is habitual and ongoing.
We’ll also explore how trigger words, such as anoche in Spanish, fit into the usage of these two Spanish tenses.
Preterite Tense in Spanish
The preterite tense denotes completed actions. These can be repeated or single actions but they all have concrete beginnings and ends.
The Spanish preterite is similar to the English simple past tense, where we add the suffix “-ed” to the end of the verb. In Spanish, the regular verb endings -ar, -er, -ir are switched by suffixes that agree with the pronoun.
Regular Verb: cantar
|Spanish Pronoun||Preterite Tense of cantar|
|Él, ella, usted||cantó|
Check the Beginner’s Guide to the Past Tense to get a detailed lesson on how to conjugate the three types of verbs in the preterite tense:
As for irregular verbs, you will need to memorize them as they don’t follow predictable patterns. One such verb is caber (meaning, “to fit”) which has drastic changes, including from tú cabes (“you fit,” present tense) to tú cupiste (“you fit,” past tense).
Irregular verb: caber
|Spanish Pronoun||Preterite Tense of caber|
|Él, ella, usted||cupo|
Hand-picked for you: Irregular Preterite Spanish Verbs.
Preterite Trigger Words
Anoche in Spanish is one of the preterite trigger words that exist. These words or phrases demand the usage of the preterite tense. Some of these phrases don’t express a defined time range but a more general one.
1. Una vez – one time / once
Una vez me subí a un caballo.
Once, I got on a horse.
2. El otro día – the other day
El otro día vi a Alberto.
The other day I saw Alberto.
3. En ese momento – at that moment
Quise irme en ese momento.
I wanted to leave at that moment.
4. Desde el momento – from the moment
Trabajé desde el momento en que me gradué.
I worked from the moment I graduated.
5. Entonces – then
Entonces, vi una luz.
Then, I saw a light.
Imperfect Past Tense in Spanish
The imperfect past tense is typically used for ongoing, habitual or progressive actions, as well as people’s states and ages in the past. In English, you can express them with the help of auxiliary verbs like “have been” or “used to.”
Regular -AR verb: cantar
|Spanish Pronoun||Imperfect Tense of cantar|
|Él, ella, usted||cantaba|
Regular -ER verb: conocer
|Spanish Pronoun||Imperfect Tense of conocer|
|Él, ella, usted||conocía|
Imperfect Trigger Words
The Spanish imperfect past tense also has trigger words and phrases that denote the ongoing or habitual quality of the action. Here are some examples you can use to express the imperfect past tense:
1. A veces – sometimes
A veces nos veíamos en el parque.
Sometimes, we used to see each other at the park.
2. A menudo – often
A menudo salía a callar a los perros.
I often went out to silence the dogs.
3. Mientras – while
Hice la tarea mientras comía.
I did my homework while I was eating.
4. Siempre – always
Siempre llevaba dinero.
I always carried money.
5. Nunca – never
Nunca salía de noche.
I never went out at night.
Preterite vs Imperfect Examples
We have covered from how to use anoche in Spanish to many examples of how the preterite and imperfect tenses are different from each other. Let’s compare them directly so you can see how even the meanings of verbs change when used in the two tenses.
|Conocí a tu hermano. (I met your brother.)||Conocía a tu hermano. (I used to know your brother.)|
|Pudimos graduarnos. (We were able to graduate.)||Podíamos graduarnos. (We could graduate.)|
|Me vieron comer temprano. (They saw me eating early.)||Me veían comer temprano. (They watched me eating early.)|
Practice Makes Perfect
If you feel ready to put into practice what you’ve learned, try the Preterite and Imperfect Reading and Practice in Story Form where you will see past tense examples put together into one story. This will increase your vocabulary and get you used to reading conjugations. If you’d rather fill in the blanks and compare your results to the answer key, put your skills to a test with these Preterite vs Imperfect 25 Online Exercises. But remember! There is nothing like practicing the use of anoche in Spanish by speaking with a professional Spanish teacher! Homeschool Spanish Academy offers courses for all ages, K-12, as well as adults with a tailored curriculum to meet your needs. For high school students, we even offer credit that can transfer! Try us out for free and sign up to practice with one of our native speakers from Guatemala. Our certified teachers attend over 24,000 monthly students worldwide.
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