/ / Hace / Desde Hace / Desde: What’s the Difference in Spanish?

Hace / Desde Hace / Desde: What’s the Difference in Spanish?

Hace / Desde Hace / Desde: What's the Difference in Spanish?

I was wondering… ¿Cuándo empezaste a aprender español? (When did you start learning Spanish?) To respond to this question in Spanish, you may say:

  • Estoy aprendiendo español desde hace dos meses. (I’ve been learning Spanish for two months.)
  • Empecé a aprender español hace dos meses. (I started learning Spanish two months ago.) 
  • Hace dos meses que empecé a aprender español. (It’s been two months since I started learning Spanish.)
  • Empecé a aprender español desde que encontré el canal de Spring Spanish. (I‘ve been learning Spanish since I discovered the Spring Spanish YouTube channel.)

Wow! ¡Cuántas opciones! (So many options!) You may have noticed that the words desde and hace are the common denominator in these sentences! Do you want to know why? Well, quédate hasta el final (stick around until the end) because in this article we will go over desde, hace, and other combinations.

Using hace

The word hace —which is actually a verb, but we’re not going to get into that… for now— is used to talk about acciones en el pasado (something that happened in the past), but more importantly, it is used to highlight how long it’s been since that thing happened.

Let’s go over some chunks that will allow you to fully grasp this idea!

Towards the beginning, I mentioned that the question ¿Cuándo empezaste a aprender español? (When did you start learning Spanish?) may be answered by saying:

  • Empecé a aprender español hace dos meses. (I started learning Spanish two months ago.) 
  • Hace dos meses que empecé a aprender español. (It’s been two months since I started learning Spanish.)

Key points

I want to draw your attention to three things:

  1. The word hace is followed by an amount of time (for example, dos meses / two months).
  1. The word hace may be translated as “ago” or “it’s been” because we are talking about something that happened in the past.
  1. Hace dos meses is an example of a chunk, that is, a fixed word combination that never changes and that you want to learn by heart as a whole so it just rolls off the tongue in conversations without having to think about grammar rules

Por la tarde (in the afternoon) is another example of a chunk. In our Academy we teach entire Spanish courses based around the concept of chunks; if you’d like to learn more about this, check out our free Spanish training, where we explain how it works and give you a demo lesson!

Examples

Having said that, let’s go over more examples:

  • Hace tres meses que trabajo en esta empresa. (It’s been three months since I started working in this company.)
  • Hace nueve meses que empezó la pandemia. (It’s been nine months since the pandemic started.)
  • Nos conocimos hace quince años. (We met fifteen years ago.)
  • Se casaron hace un año. (They got married one year ago.)

Now, although we are talking about stuff that happened in the past, there’s a slight difference between these sentences.

On the one hand, when saying “hace tres meses que” or “hace nueve meses que”, we are telling the other person that whatever it is we are talking about is still taking place today.

So, in the first example, “Hace tres meses que trabajo en esta empresa (It’s been three months since I started working in this company), you’re highlighting how long it’s been since you started working in that particular company.

By contrast, in the sentence Se casaron hace un año (They got married one year ago), although the couple you are referring to may still be married today, the moment in time when they got married is already over.

Using desde

The word hace may be combined with the word desde —more on that in a minute! 

Contrary to hace, desde highlights the point in time when something started to happen. In other words, it is used to talk about something that started happening in the past, but is still going on today. 

Look at these examples (and again, some more chunks!): 

  • Trabajo en esta empresa desde julio de 2020. (I’ve been working in this company since July 2020.)
  • Trabajo en esta empresa desde hace cuatro meses. (I’ve been working in this company for four months.)
  • Soy más feliz desde que empecé a trabajar en esta empresa. (I’m even happier since I started working in this company.)

The common denominator in these three sentences is that I’m emphasizing the point in time when I started working in a specific company or when I started feeling happier. 

Key points

So, what should you bear in mind to understand the use of desde?

  1. The word desde may be followed either by:
  • a date (for example, desde julio de 2020 / since July 2020)
  • the word hace and an amount of time (for example, desde hace cuatro meses / for four months)
  • the word que and a verb (for example, desde que empecé / since I started)
  1. The word desde is used to highlight when something started.

With that in mind, why don’t you practice the use of desde by telling me in the comments section, ¿Cuándo empezaste a aprender español? (When did you start learning Spanish?). I’d be happy to know!

Chunks to say “I’m ready”

The words hace and desde may prove useful to respond to the question “¿Estás lista/listo?” (Are you ready?). Look:

  • ¡Estoy lista desde hace rato! or ¡Hace mucho que estoy lista! —They both mean “I’ve been ready for a while!”

You could also say: 

  • ¡Estoy lista desde niña! (I’ve been ready since I was a child) 
  • ¡Estoy lista desde que nací! (I was born ready!)

Summary

In a nutshell, what should you bear in mind when practicing the use of hace and desde?

  1. Both are used to talk about things that happened or started happening in the past.
  1. Hace indicates the amount of time that has elapsed since something happened, while desde indicates when something started to happen.
  1. The formulas to properly use hace are: 

Hace + amount of time + que + verb

For example:
Hace dos meses que aprendo español. (It’s been two months since I started learning Spanish.)

Hace + amount of time + verb

For example:
Hace dos meses empecé a aprender español. (I started learning Spanish two months ago.)

  1. The formulas to properly use desde are:

Desde + date or point in time

For example:
Estoy aprendiendo español desde enero de 2020. (I’ve been studying Spanish since January 2020.)

Desde hace + amount of time

For example:
Estoy aprendiendo español desde hace dos meses. (I’ve been learning Spanish for two months.)

Desde que + verb

For example:
Estoy estudiando español desde que encontré el canal de Spring Spanish. (I’ve been learning Spanish since I discovered the Spring Spanish YouTube channel.)

  1. Hace usually appears at the beginning of sentences, while desde hace usually appears in the middle. 

With this in mind, why don’t you tell me something about yourself in the comments section using hace or desde. Come on! You can do it and I’ll be more than happy not only to read your comments, but also to provide you with feedback if needed!

FREE Spanish Training

¡Genial! Desde ahora (from now on) you’ll be able to use desde and hace just by thinking about the examples we went over today and applying them to talk about other things that happened in the past, like the Fall of the Berlin Wall or other historic events!

¿Por qué no escribes una historia para practicar? (Why don’t you write a short story to practice?) Share it with me in the comments section! I’d be happy to read it! 

Now, if you feel like you’re not there yet and want to enhance your Spanish skills, look no further because we are offering a Free Spanish Training on our website. If you sign up by following the link you’ll find in the description box, you’ll get free sample Spanish lessons and you’ll discover the method we use to teach students to speak fluent Spanish!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *