Spanish expressions: “¿Hace cuánto…?”, “desde hace…”

spanish expressions hace cuanto 1

“Hace cuánto” is a Spanish expression we use as an equivalent of “how long”. It may come helpful in several situations where we need to know information about how much time someone has spent doing something, for example.

“Hace cuánto” comes from the combination of the Spanish verb “hacer” and the adjective “cuánto”. Usually, Spanish speakers also use it together with words like “desde” and que”.

In Spanish, “cómo” is the equivalent word to “how”. For that reason, many Spanish learners get confused when using “hace cuánto”.

In this article, we will show you a few uses of “hace cuánto” and what word combinations you could use to build useful sentences.

How to use “hace cuánto”

In most cases, we use “hace cuánto” to make questions. Therefore, it will help us get almost any information we need about how much time has passed since someone is doing something.

“Hace cuánto” is not a variable phrase. So, you don’t need to change its structure because of the noun’s gender or if it’s singular or plural.

With “hace cuánto”, we will get information about an event that started in the past but’s still ongoing in the present time.

If you use the negative form of “hace cuánto”, you’ll get information about an event that started and was completed in the past but the person may be willing to repeat it in the present or future time.

Please note that, generally, the word that helps us get information about time is “cuándo”, and we frequently use “cuánto” to talk about quantity. Yet, as we said, Spanish speakers use “hace cuánto” to talk about the quantity (amount) of time.

Let’s see a few examples:

¿Hace cuánto no visitas a tu familia?

How long has it been since you visited your family?

¿Hace cuánto que no tomas unas vacaciones?

How long has it been since you took a vacation?

¿Hace cuánto estudias español?

How long have you studied Spanish?

¿Hace cuánto salió el avión para Madrid? Creo que está retrasado.

How much time ago did the plane leave for Madrid? I think it’s late.

Using “que” between “hace cuánto” and the rest of the question is optional but helps us emphasize what’s the action or event we are talking about.

Also, as you may see, we only use “hace cuánto” with verbs conjugated in the present tense or the past tense. “Hace cuánto” does not allow using verbs in the future tense.

“Desde” + “hace cuánto”

The structure (“desde” + “hace cuánto”) is pretty common among native speakers. In fact, they usually answer “hace cuánto” questions with the structure (“desde” + “hace” + time expression).

Let’s see some examples:

¿Hace cuánto no visitas a tus abuelos? – Desde hace varias semanas.

How long has it been since you visited your grandparents? – Since several weeks.

¿Hace cuánto no viajas? – Desde hace 2 años.

How long have you not traveled? – Since 2 years ago.

Please note that, with “desde hace”, we have to use a time expression that helps us measure the amount of time.

They can be approximate times or exact times. The word “varias” will help you talk about approximate times and it’s often used with words like “días”, “meses”, “años”, “semanas”, “horas”, and “minutos”.

Building questions using (“desde” + “hace cuánto” is similar to building questions with just “hace cuánto”.

The only difference is that we have to add the word “desde” before “hace cuánto” and it helps us highlight that we are asking for the duration of the action.

Let’s have a look at the examples below:

¿Desde hace cuánto estás enfermo?

How long have you been sick?

¿Desde hace cuánto no vas a la playa?

How long have you not been to the beach?

See? Nothing to worry about. Now, since we often use the structure (“desde” + “hace”) to answer these kinds of questions, we will teach you how to build sentences using this useful structure.

How to use “desde hace”

As you have seen, we can use “desde hace” to make questions. But, more importantly, we could use it to answer them.

To build sentences using “desde hace”, we generally use the following formula:

Subject + verb (present tense) + complement + “desde hace” + time expression

As you may see, we conjugate the verb in the present tense and we can either use the present tense or the present progressive tense.

Here are some examples:

No voy a la playa desde hace una semana.

I haven’t been to the beach for a week.

Estoy estudiando francés desde hace 3 meses.

I have been studying French for 3 months.

Estoy ahorrando dinero desde el año pasado. Me quiero comprar una casa este año.

I am saving money since last year. I want to buy a house this year.

Empecé a trabajar como ingeniero desde hace 20 años.

I started working as an engineer 20 years ago.

No hablo con Martina desde que se fue a vivir a Portugal.

I haven’t spoken to Martina since she went to live in Portugal.

Please note that in the last example, we aren’t exactly using a time expression but a past event as a reference. It’s also possible because it happened on an “important date” for the participants of the conversation.

Spanish important expressions

In conclusion, we use “hace cuánto” to ask for information about time. It’s equivalent to the English phrase “how long” and we use it in the same way.

Keep in mind that when building questions, using “desde” and “que” is optional. Yet, they will help you emphasize either the action or the need of knowing the duration of the action.

Answering these questions is simple. Don’t hesitate to use the structure (“desde hace” + time expression) to do it.

Remember that practicing is essential to improve your Spanish skills. So, ¿desde hace cuánto no practicas tu español?

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