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Expressions of time with “hacer”

En España, hoy es jueves el 21 de septiembre de 2017.

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2016-11-20 – © Baldo Partners: Hector Cantú & Carlos Castellanos; Universal UClick

To discuss how long you have been doing something, or how long an action has been taking place, in Spanish you use a special structure using the verb hacer (to make, to do).

In English, a common way of asking about the length of time an activity has been going on, and the response to the question might look like this:

  • How long have you been studying Spanish?
  • I’ve been studying Spanish for 3 years.

The question above is actually really complicated grammatically! It uses the present perfect progressive indicative tense! That’s pretty hard to teach to non-native speakers of English!

The Spanish structure is much easier!

  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que estudias español? (literally: How much time does it make that you study Spanish?)
  • Hace tres años (que estudio español). (literally: It makes 3 years)

So, to distill the formula:

  • “Hace” + (period of time in years/months/days/hours) + “que” + (verb in the present indicative)

The hace is invariable and will always be in that form. Further, the verb in the second half of the sentence after the que will always be in the present indicative for this structure.

Here are some examples:

  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que vives en Vermont?

    • Hace doce años (que vivo en Vermont).
  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que estás aquí?

    • Hace dos horas (que estoy aquí).

Most native speakers don’t bother repeating the action in the answer, so I’ve placed that part in parenthesis to show that it is optional.


Below are some additional samples of this structure in use:


Baldo viene de http://ucomics.com

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