TE01 Time Expressions in the Past – HACER

Expressing Duration of Past EventsFirst let's practice expressing how long a certain action had been occurring, when another action occurred.How long had you been waiting when we arrived?To ask this in Spanish, we the IMPERFECT, to set the stage and describe the action that had been occurring, and we use the PRETERITE to state the […]

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  • Hi Molly, Thank you so much for your outstanding podcast. I have learned so much from both the grammar and medical Spanish episodes.

    I had a question about the obligatory versus optional use of “que” in the preterite versus present using “hacer” when referring to time expressions. After having read other sources in the past, my understanding is that it would not be wrong to say, for example: “Hace tres meses compré este libro.” (i.e., without the “que”), as this is a fixed action in the past that already ended, and I have heard many people use it this way. However, it would still be correct to say, “Hace tres meses *que* compré este libro.”

    However, if referring to an action still ongoing in the present, the “que” is not optional. For example, “Hace tres meses que estudio español” would be correct, but “Hace tres meses estudio español” is not. Is this correct? Thank you.

    • Hello Katie, You are quite welcome. No hay de qué. I am so glad you like the audio lessons.
      Exactly, the “que” is optional when we use the preterite tense to say how long ago something occurred. The “que” is obligatory when we use the present tense to express for how long something has been occurring.

      1) Hace + periodo de tiempo + (que) + preterite
      The que is optional. You can say:
      Hace tres meses compré este libro.
      Hace tres meses que compré este libro.
      They mean almost the same thing. However, when you use QUE you are emphasizing the time that has passed since the event.

      2) Hace + periodo de tiempo + que + presente
      Hace tres meses que estudio español.

      Espero que esto te sea de utilidad.

      Un abrazo,


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