When to Use De vs Desde and What’s the Difference in Meaning?
Desde and de in Spanish are two prepositions that cause a bit of confusion because they both mean “from.”
When it comes to choosing between those two, knowing different usages and meanings will give you the tools to make the right choice.
Today we unravel the difference between de vs desde with definitions, guides for usage, and clever tricks for using them naturally.
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The Meaning of Desde in Spanish
The definition of desde in Spanish is “from” or “since” in English. It indicates the origin of an action in time and space. Like other prepositions, desde is followed by a noun but there are certain exceptions where other types of phrases or words intervene.
Desde as the beginning of an action:
Desde translates in Spanish to English as from or as since. Desde in Spanish is used to reference the beginning of an action.
He venido al parque en las tardes desde el martes pasado.
I’ve been going to the park in the afternoon since last Tuesday.
No me han gustado los tomates desde que era niño.
I haven’t liked tomatoes since I was a kid.
Desde in Spanish as a point of origin:
Desde in Spanish is used to refer to a location or time that serves as the starting point.
Estoy esperando su llamada desde las 6AM.
I’ve been waiting for your call since 6 AM.
Vengo corriendo desde que salí de mi casa.
I’ve been running since I left my house.
No te había visto desde el restaurante.
I hadn’t seen you since last time.
Desde as a starting amount:
Desde in Spanish is used to elaborate on an initial quantity for a specific noun or action.
Las televisiones están disponibles desde los $500.00.
Televisions are available from $500.00.
Desde 1821 que Guatemala ha sido independiente.
Since 1821 Guatemala has been independent.
Puedo traer desde 15 a 25 dulces.
I can bring from 15 to 25 sweets.
Desde as perspective:
Desde in Spanish is used in this context to highlight an opinion, position, or outlook on an action or noun. Like a place where someone is observing from.
Desde mi punto de vista, todos somos iguales.
From my point of view, we’re all equal.
Visto desde una perspectiva científica, tu argumento tiene sentido.
From a scientific perspective, your argument makes sense.
Desde mi casa tengo buena vista de los volcanes.
From my house, I have a good view of the volcanoes.
Desde as a time marker with hasta
Desde in Spanish means from and is followed by the preposition hasta which means “until”.
It’s used to refer to specific time frames, distances, and spaces that can be measured.
Estuve de vacaciones desde Mayo hasta Agosto.
I was on vacation from May to August.
Hice una caminata desde mi casa hasta el super.
I took a walk from my house to the supermarket.
La papelería abre desde las 10 de la mañana hasta las 4 de la tarde.
The paper store is open from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.
The Meaning of De in Spanish
The preposition de in Spanish has many meanings. Just like desde, it’s used to refer to a variety of situations that allow it to translate in English as “from”.
De in Spanish for possession:
The preposition de in Spanish is used as a possessive and to reference belonging or ownership.
Esta es la casa de Juan.
This is Juan’s house.
Me pasas el lapicero de María por favor.
Please pass me Maria’s pen.
De in Spanish surnames:
The use of the preposition de in Spanish surnames dates back to Roman and Greek times. It was used to identify the origin of a person and differentiate them from others named the same. For example in Spain, the last name of Pedro was Rodriguez and he was born in Castilla, his name changed to Pedro Rodriguez de Castilla.
Today it doesn’t necessarily reference origin, in some Spanish-speaking countries, married women adopt their spouse’s last name following the preposition de.
De for origin:
De in Spanish is used to refer to the town, city, village, or country of origin of a noun.
Ana es de Colombia.
Ana is from Colombia.
Mi chocolate favorito es de Guatemala.
My favorite chocolate is from Guatemala.
De for materials and content:
The preposition de is used to refer to the matter of which a noun is made of.
Quiero una taza de café.
I want a cup of coffee.
Mi camisa es de algodón.
My shirt is made of cotton.
De for type or style:
De in Spanish is used to express the style, culture, genre, or type of noun or action.
Me gusta la ropa de playa.
I like beach clothes.
Las películas de miedo son mis favoritas.
Scary movies are my favorite.
De as a time expression:
De is used to reference certain moments of time that are a specific period or point in time.
Yo de niño me enojaba mucho.
As a child, I was very angry.
Mi mamá me llamó de madrugada.
My mom called me at dawn.
De as a time marker with a:
De is used to define a period of time that has a limit and ends. It uses the preposition a (to) to mark it.
Estaré en casa de 10AM a 5PM.
I’ll be home from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Me voy del viaje del 15 de mayo al 6 de junio.
I’m traveling from May 15 to June 6.
¿Why are De Vs Desde Confusing?
Prepositions are challenging not only for Spanish learners but also for native speakers. Desde and de in Spanish are among the most frequently used prepositions. They connect two elements of a sentence to provide further context. They are incredibly common and establish relationships between words.
Refresh your knowledge on propositions in Spanish with this practical and essential blog post.
De vs desde have similar meanings when used as propositions. Mostly they both indicate the origin of an action in time and space. So if each of them is used to express time, it’s easy to confuse them with each other.
When to Use De vs Desde
Look back on the several meanings of desde in Spanish I just listed. Desde indicates either a destination or end that is implicit. A sentence using desde gets combined with the preposition hasta (until) as the implicit phrase. While a sentence using de is combined with the proposition a (to) with a defined ending of the action. Let’s take a look at some examples where our sentences are turned into questions and answers.
¿Desde cuando estuviste fuera de casa?
Estuve fuera de casa desde enero hasta mayo.
Since when were you away from home?
I was away from home from January until may.
¿Desde hace cuando no te veo?
No quise verte hasta hoy.
How long haven’t I seen you?
I didn’t want to see you until today
¿De qué hora a qué hora es la clase?
La clase es de 7AM a 12PM.
From what time to what time is the class?
The class is from 7 AM to 12 PM.
Review the three previous examples and do the exercise of replacing de for desde and vice versa. You’ll see how the sentences don’t make sense when answered using hasta (until) and a (to).
Make a Choice: De Vs Desde Practice Quiz
Complete the following text choosing between de vs desde in Spanish.
- Javier es un chico [de/desde] 25 años [de/desde] Venezuela.
- Estudia arquitectura en la Universidad Autonoma [de/desde] México [de/desde] 2018.
- Va a todos lados en su bicicleta [de/desde] aluminio y su patineta.
- [de/desde] las 9 [de/desde] la mañana hasta las 3 [de/desde] la tarde está en clases.
- A la hora [de/desde] salida se va directo al trabajo.
- Después [de/desde] trabajar se va a una clase de yoga.
- Le gusta practicar yoga [de/desde] que tiene 15 años.
- Al salir de yoga, se va a casa de su novia cerca [de/desde] la biblioteca.
- Antes [de/desde] volver a casa, pasa a la tienda por algo [de/desde] cenar.
- [De/Desde] que vive solo, a Javier no le gusta cocinar. [De/Desde] que vive solo, es más independiente.
Click here to see the answer key!
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Feel free to return to this blog post as a resource with many examples for making the choice between de vs desde. Using it as a guide can take you one step closer to becoming a fluent and confident Spanish speaker.
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