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Using 'Cuando' as a Preposition

Word Can Be Used Differently than English 'When'



En esta foto estoy yo cuando bebé. (Here I am in this photo when I was a baby.)

Photo by Gabi Menashe, licensed via Creative Commons.

The Spanish word cuando is usually the equivalent of the English "when." But unlike "when," which is usually used as a conjunction in English, cuando is frequently used as a preposition.

When used as a preposition, cuando can often be translated as "during" or "at the time of." Often the sentence using cuando in this way can't be translated word for word but must be loosely translated to indicate that something happened during the time of the prepositional object.

Some examples:

  • Cuando niño yo tenía un ejército de hormigas. When I was a child I had a army of ants.
  • Cuando las inundaciones yo era muy chica. At the time of the floods I was very young.
  • En esta foto estoy yo cuando bebé. Here I am in this photo when I was a baby.
  • La escribió cuando estudiante. She wrote it when she was a student.
  • Cuando la guerra, dije que la gente que salía a la calle no representaba a todo el mundo. During the war, I said that the people who took to the streets didn't represent everyone.
  • Yo era enfermizo cuando muchacho con asma. As a boy I was sickly with asthma.
  • Así fue cuando la Revolución Francesa. That's how it was during the French Revolution.
These uses of cuando aren't particularly common, and the same thoughts are often expressed in other ways. Cuando is used far more often as a conjunction or adverb.
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