Spanish words: “Cuando…”, “luego…”, “después…”, “entonces…”

spanish words cuando despues entonces luego 1

When telling stories, it’s important to set a sequence and let the audience understand how events happen. Otherwise, they might get lost with ease.

In Spanish, we can tell stories and let people understand sequences by using “conectores temporales”. Some common “conectores temporales” are cuando, “luego”, “después”, and “entonces”. If you’re an English native speaker, you may know them as “time connectives”.

Today, we will show you how to use “cuando”, “luego”, “después”, and “entonces” to enhance your stories and improve your Spanish skills. These connection words are useful not only when speaking but also when writing.

How to use “cuando

The word “cuando” is the Spanish alternative to the English word “when”. We can use “cuando” to set limits or set a reference when an event will happen or happened just a moment ago. It helps listeners understand the specific moment of the actions.

Using “cuando” isn’t difficult. Since it may help us talk about past, present, or future events, we can use it together with almost any verb. Also, we can place it at the beginning of the sentence or in the middle.

Depending on where we place “cuando”, we can emphasize the time an event happened.  There’s an interesting fact that you have to know when putting “cuando” at the beginning of a sentence. If you do it, you have to add a comma after the “reference”.

Let’s see some examples.

Llámame cuando puedas. / Cuando puedas, llámame.

Call me when you can. / When you can, call me.

Veré las estrellas cuando anochezca. / Cuando anochezca, veré las estrellas.

I’ll see the stars when it gets dark. / When it gets dark, I’ll see the stars.

Usabas esa blusa cuando nos conocimos. / Cuando nos conocimos, usabas esa blusa.

You wore that blouse when we met. / When we met, you wore that blouse.

Please note that everything that goes after “cuando” and before the comma is called “the reference” and what goes after the comma is “the main event”. On the other hand, we do know we can use “cuando” as a transitional word. However, we can also use it to set conditions and build Spanish conditionals.

Let’s see how we could do it.

Podrás ir al parque cuando termines la tarea.

You can go to the park when you finish your homework.

Te llamaré cuando me desocupe.

I’ll call you when I’m free.

Vendrá cuando se sienta mejor.

He’ll come when he feels better.

Please note that this time, what we express after “cuando” isn’t a reference but a condition. In that case, the first event won’t happen if the condition isn’t met.

How to use “entonces

“Entonces” is the Spanish alternative to the English expressions “then”, “so”, “since then” or “by the time”. Still, its translation will depend on the context. When using “entonces” as a time connective, you should add “desde ese” or “desde” before “entonces”.

The formula, in this case, looks like the one below.

Desde/Desde ese + entonces + complement

Let’s have a look at the examples below to get a clear picture:

Desde ese entonces, no he vuelto a ir a la playa.

Since then, I haven’t gone to the beach again.

No he vuelto a escuchar esa canción desde entonces.

I haven’t listened to that song since then.

See? Nothing to worry about. As you may also see in the last example, we can use “desde entonces” or “desde ese entonces” not only at the beginning of the sentences but also at the end.

Even though using “desde entonces” or “desde ese entonces” is quite common, we can also use “entonces” by itself to set a sequence.

Let’s see a few more examples.

Iba conduciendo muy rápido y no pudo frenar a tiempo, entonces se pasó el semáforo.

He was driving very fast and he couldn’t brake in time, so he passed the traffic light.

Estaba distraída entonces no lo ví.

I was distracted so I didn’t see him.

Entonces” to express cause

We can also use “entonces” to express cause. It will still be a time connective word but instead of setting a time reference, sequence, or condition, it will express a cause. When using “entonces” to express cause it can only be translated to the English word “so”.

Let’s see a few examples.

Me envió la invitación muy tarde, entonces no fui.

She sent me the invitation too late, so I didn’t go.

Salimos mal en el examen. Entonces, nuestros papás no nos dejaron ir al cine.

We failed the exam. So, our parents didn’t let us go to the movie theater.

Habíamos comido demasiado, entonces no podíamos entrar a la piscina.

We had eaten too much, so we couldn’t go into the pool.

How to use “luego” and “después

The words “luego” and “después” mean the same in Spanish. They are synonyms and we translate them to the English words “after” or “later”. Using one or another will depend on you and what you want to express. Keep in mind that since they are synonyms, they are exchangeable.

Here are some examples.

“Lo compraré luego” = (I’ll buy it later) can be turned into “Lo compraré después”. If we want to add a reference, we would say “Lo compraré despues de la quincena” = (I’ll buy it after the biweekly pay).

“Te llamo después” = (I’ll call you later) can be turned into “Te llamo luego de bañarme” = (I’ll call you after bathing).

Although “después” and “luego” are exchangeable, some expressions are more common than others. For example, in Latin America people say “nos vemos despues” more often than “nos vemos luego”. On the other hand, in Spain, it is more common to hear “nos vemos luego”.

Time Connectives “cuando”, “entonces”, “luego”, “después”

In summary, the words “cuando”, “entonces”, “luego”, and “después” are time connectives that you can use with any Spanish tense.

They will help you in several scenarios whether you want to set a sequence or express a condition or a cause. Their translations will depend on the context, but if you keep in mind what we just taught you, you will have no issues when making translations.

Using these words is the best thing you can do to enhance your stories. So, the days of struggling to keep your audience engaged have officially gone. ¡Nos vemos luego!


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