Time Expressions in Spanish With Hacer, Llevar, and Desde
Knowing Spanish time expressions is super useful if you want to take your conversations to a higher level. Knowing how to discuss your thoughts in relation to time will make your speech sound more natural, precise, and fluid.
In this article, you’ll get to know the most common Spanish time expressions with hacer, llevar, and desde. I promise to throw in many useful example sentences and ready-to-go expressions.
Let’s get started!
Spanish Time Expressions
There are many ways to talk about time in Spanish to refer to past, present, or future events. If you’re interested in learning how to tell time in Spanish and accessing more ready-to-use phrases, check out 50+ Time Expressions in Spanish for Better Conversations.
And now, let’s learn how to use hacer, llevar, and desde in Spanish past time expressions!
Time Expressions Using Llevar
You typically use llevar for time expressions for events of longer duration. Let’s take a look at two Spanish time expressions with llevar.
1. Llevar (conjugated in present tense) + period of time + gerund (-ando, -endo)
You use this expression to refer to an event that has been in progress for some time.
Llevo 3 años estudiando español y cada día me gusta más.
I have been studying Spanish for 3 years and I like it more and more every day.
Lleva 2 meses intentando cambiar de trabajo.
I have been trying to change jobs for 2 months.
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas esperando?
How long have you been waiting?
¡No llevas ni una semana trabajando y ya te echaron!
You haven’t even been working for a week and you’ve already been fired.
Llevo un buen leyendo las instrucciones y sigo sin entender nada.
I’ve been reading the instructions for a while now and I still don’t understand anything.
As you can see, you will translate this expression with the present perfect continuous tense in English.
2. Llevar (conjugated in present tense) + period of time + sin + infinitive
This one helps you to say that time has passed without doing a specific activity. These expressions usually translate into English present perfect tense.
Llevamos tres meses sin comer carne.
We have not eaten meat for three months.
Llevo dos días sin electricidad.
I haven’t had electricity for two days.
Ya llevo un rato sin poder viajar.
I have been unable to travel for a while now.
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas sin ver a tus padres?
How long have you not seen your parents?
Time Expressions Using Hacer
Hacer time expressions are different from the ones with llevar because hacer is never conjugated. Instead, it’s always in the impersonal third-person singular form.
1. Past event + hace / hace + que + past event
You use these expressions to inform about time that has passed since the last event. It translates to the English past simple tense with “ago.”
Compramos esta casa hace diez años. / Hace diez años que compramos esta casa.
We bought this house ten years ago.
Me gradué hace una semana. / Hace una semana que me gradué.
I graduated a week ago.
Terminaron de construir este edificio hace un mes. / Hace un mes terminaron de construir este edificio.
They finished this building a month ago.
2. Hacer + period of time + que + verb conjugated in present
This is the expression to use when you have present perfect continuous tense in English with the word “for” to talk about for how long you’ve been doing something.
Hace un año que estudio español.
I have been studying Spanish for a year.
Hace un mes que no para de llover.
It has been raining for a month.
Hace rato que no escucho una canción buena.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard a good song.
Time Expressions Using Desde
Spanish time expressions with desde, on the other hand, indicate the specific point in the past when the action that is still going on started.
Verb conjugated in present + desde + specific moment in time
Estudio en Guatemala desde el 2020.
I have been studying in Guatemala since 2020.
Mis papás tienen este coche apenas desde el viernes pasado.
My parents just got this car last Friday.
No la veo desde el año 2000.
I have not seen her since 2000.
Sigo su carrera desde que era un niño.
I’ve been following his career since he was a kid.
Time Expressions Using desde hace
Did you know that you can combine desde and hace into a single expression?
Verb conjugated in present + desde hace + period of time
The meaning is the same as the second of the hacer time expressions. You’ll use it to talk about an event that started in the past and still continues. You emphasize the duration of this event.
Vivo en España desde hace cinco años.
I have been living in Spain for five years.
Conozco a tu madre desde hace dos décadas.
I have known your mother for two decades.
Estudio español desde hace un rato.
I have been studying Spanish for a while.
Practice Spanish Time Expressions
Congratulations! You’ve added new items to your Spanish expressions bank, and you’re now grammatically wiser. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you know, it’s not enough to study Spanish time expressions alone. You have to start using them in a conversation to master the topic. Theoretical knowledge is great, but in terms of languages, practical skills are what you should aim to develop.
If you want to be truly bilingual, you have to invest time. Shortcuts are tempting, but you can’t take them when studying Spanish. Becoming bilingual lleva un rato (takes some time) but the benefits are worth the effort.
Make a list of all the things you would do tomorrow if you already knew Spanish. Do you want to travel? Watch your favorite Spanish series in the original language? Maybe you want to earn more money? All this is possible and depends on you.
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