desde - desde hace - desde que - hace | SpanishDict Answers
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0 Vote

What is difference between these words''? Don't they all mean "since"'''? Which one do I use in which situations''''

  • Posted Dec 30, 2008
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14 Answers

10 Vote

The difference is that "desde" is one word, and "desde hace" are two words, where the first is also "desde". It is like asking what is the difference between "from" and "from where". Each word has its own use and meaning, and when you put them together, you mean more things or you get extra uses.

"Desde" means "since". "Hace" is untranslatable in English, and it used to indicate a certain amount of time that has passed. "Que" in this case is "that", a conjunction that it is often omitted in English (and sometimes not used), that introduces subordinate clauses (more verbs): you say "since you came" and not "since that you came", which would be the correct Spanish version.

Desde + [time/place reference] = since: desde ayer, desde aquí,...
Desde que + [verb] = since : desde que viniste (since you came), desde que me casé (since I got married)
Hace + [length of time] = [length of time] ago: Me casé hace dos años (I got married two years ago).
Hace + [length of time] + que + [verb] = [verb] for [length of time]: Hace dos años que no fumo (I haven't smoked for two years)
Desde hace + [length of time] = for [length of time]: No fumo desde hace dos años (I haven't smoked for two years)

  • then what's the difference between "hace" and "desde hace"? - JuanEsteban May 16, 2012 flag
3 Vote

Lazarus has given you a good answer, with which I agree except for saying that "hace" is untranslatable in English. I think it can be translated as "ago." Therefore, in a nutshell, we have the following.

desde = since
He estado esperando desde las tres.
I've been waiting since 3:00.

desde hace = since (time) ago
Esta noche podemos ver la luna más brillante desde hace 30 años.
Tonight we can see the brightest moon in 30 years.
Literally: Tonight we can see the brightest moon since 30 years ago.

desde que = since (followed by a clause)
No has dejado de quejarte desde que llegaste.
You haven't stopped complaining since you got here.

hace = ago, for
Me matriculé hace 20 años.
I graduated 20 years ago.
Hace quince días que no fumo.
I haven't had a cigarette in (for) two weeks.

3 Vote

I hope this won't add to the confusion but .... I don't think that "desde hace" is really untranslatable. I would rather say that You can translate it rather directly but the result is very peculiar (but intelligible) English. "No fumo desde hace dos años" = It makes two years that I don't smoke (haven't smoked). I grant that no native speaker of English would say this but I think most, on hearing it, would be able to puzzle out the intended meaning. Note further: that, as Lazarus explained, this construction always involves some measure of time (some number of hours/days/weeks/months/years) but cannot refer to some specific time in the past (e.g. 1996, last winter, a year ago, etc. {for these one would use simply "desde").

P.S. "Il fait deux ans que je ne fume pas." is the parallel construction that would be used in French with the same meaning (and for most purposes "faire" = "hacer"). My guess would be that the same construction exists in Italian.

1 Vote

James Santiago said:

Lazarus has given you a good answer, with which I agree except for saying that "hace" is untranslatable in English. I think it can be translated as "ago."

Well, except for "hacer" is a verb, and it has to be conjugated, and "ago" is not, plus they are placed differently:

Hace dos años = two years ago?
Hacía dos años = two years ago?
Hará dos años = two years ago?
Haga dos años = two years ago?

Above you have the verb "hacer" conjugated, and maybe you can use "ago" with all of them (I'm not sure you can in future tense, though), but "ago" is not replacing "hacer", since you also have to modify the rest of the sentence (i.e. the verb) to match the translation. Let's say, there isn't a single word that has the same function as "hacer" here.

1 Vote

1) Estoy aprendiendo a tocar la guitarra hace el verano pasado.

No, it should be "desde el verano pasado." As I said, desde means since, and hace (usually) means ago.

2) Desde un año estudio con un profesor particular.

No, it should be "desde hace un año." But the more natural way to say this is "Llevo un año estudiando..." Use this construction for "I've been doing...for..."

3) Desde hace fui a Andalucía estoy deseando volver otra vez.

No, it should be "Desde que fui..."

4) Desde el siglo XVIII, los reyes de España son de la casa de Borbón.

Yes.

5) Desde que algún tiempo me siento otra vez bien.

No, it should be "Desde hace..."

6) Me llamaron por teléfono hace muy poco.

Yes.

7) Hace ya bastante tiempo que no salimos por la noche.

Yes.

0 Vote

PS: I just noticed that Lazarus has (yet again!) modified his post, which now includes much of the same information as mine, but maybe the two posts will be better than one.

0 Vote

Okay... I think I understand the difference now a little bit better with your help... thank you.
So there is a exercise I did to practice it .... is it right'''?

1) Estoy aprendiendo a tocar la guitarra hace el verano pasado.
2) Desde un año estudio con un profesor particular.
3) Desde hace fui a Andalucía estoy deseando volver otra vez.
4) Desde el siglo XVIII, los reyes de España son de la casa de Borbón.
5) Desde que algún tiempo me siento otra vez bien.
6) Me llamaron por teléfono hace muy poco.
7) Hace ya bastante tiempo que no salimos por la noche.

0 Vote

I guess, I have to practice this a looooot......

So desde hace can also be used with an unspecific time, yes''? I somehow thought now it can only be used with a specific time (like 2 years ago), because you said desde hace = since (time) ago....

0 Vote

Desde hace algún tiempo can be translated variously as "Since some time ago," "Since a while back (ago)," etc. When you start a sentence with "Desde que," the reader expect you to tell him who or what did something at a certain time. As Lazarus said, in Spanish it is "Since that you/he/etc....," and the "que" can not be omitted, whereas we omit the "that" in English. Desde alone is used to refer to specific time periods or points. Desde hoy, desde el viernes pasado, desde La Navidad, etc.

0 Vote

I understand....
Thanks a lot for all your help!!!!

0 Vote

P.S. "Il fait deux ans que je ne fume pas." is the parallel construction that would be used in French with the same meaning (and for most purposes "faire" = "hacer"). My guess would be that the same construction exists in Italian.

Yep. Fa due anni che non fumo = Hace dos años que no fumo.

It's interesting that many words that started with F in Latin, and still do in Italian and French, start with H in Spanish.

0 Vote

James Santiago said:

It's interesting that many words that started with F in Latin, and still do in Italian and French, start with H in Spanish.
If i have not misunderstood Lazarus' comments (and I can't think of any counter examples) all the words in Spanish that start with "h" had an "f" in Latin.

P.S. Having said that, it occurs to me to wonder about "haber" (for which, I can't think of a Latin equivalent).

0 Vote

samdie said:

I hope this won't add to the confusion but .... I don't think that "desde hace" is really untranslatable. I would rather say that You can translate it rather directly but the result is very peculiar (but intelligible) English. "No fumo desde hace dos años" = It makes two years that I don't smoke (haven't smoked)
Another way of saying this in English (a less direct translation but a more natural expression) whould be "It's been two years since I (last) smoked."

0 Vote

P.S. Having said that, it occurs to me to wonder about "haber" (for which, I can't think of a Latin equivalent).

In Italian it still has the H. "Non ho capito" means "No he entendido." In French the H is just gone, as in "j'ai," "tu as," etc.

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