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Using 'Desde'

Common Preposition Often Indicates Motion in Time or Space

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Desde is one of the most common Spanish prepositions. Typically translated as "since" or "from," it usually indicates some sort of a motion in either time or space from a certain point.

Like other prepositions, desde is usually followed by a noun. However, it occasionally is followed by other types of words or phrases.

Here are some of the most common uses of desde:

  • Followed by a noun, to indicate when an action begins: Desde niño fue su pasión y su anhelo ser un cantante. (Since he was a child it was his passion and longing to be a singer.) Desde estudiante se destacó por su perseverancia y su espíritu perfeccionista. (Since she was a student she stood out for her perseverance and her perfectionistic spirit.) Desde bebé, tiene una identidad propia. (Since he was a baby, he has had his own identity.) Note that sentences such as these typically aren't translated word for word into English.
  • Followed by a time, to indicate when an action begins: Desde 1900 hasta 1945, las exportaciones netas se encontraban cercanas a cero. (From 1900 to 1945, net exports were found to be close to zero.) Carlos es desde esta tarde el nuevo presidente. (Since this afternoon, Carlos has been the new president.) ¿Desde cuándo lo sabes? (Since when have you known that? For how long have you known that?)
  • Followed by a phrase, to indicate when an action begins: No habrá agua desde antes de mediodía hasta después de las ocho. (There will not be water from before noon until after 8.) Vivo en España desde hace 3 años. (I have lived in Spain since three years ago.)
  • To mean "from" when indicating where an action originates: Hay vuelos especiales a Roma desde Madrid. (There are special flights to Rome from Madrid.) Puedes enviar un mensaje de texto a un celular desde aquí. (You can send a text message to a cellular phone from here.) Murió un hombre al tirarse desde la Torre Eiffel y no abrirse el paracaídas. (A man died after jumping from the Eiffel Tower when his parachute didn't open.) Se ve la casa desde la calle. (The house can be seen from the street.)
A note about verb tense: You may notice that verb tenses used with desde aren't always what you would expect, and they may even be inconsistent. Note this sentence in the present tense: No te veo desde hace mucho tiempo. (I have not seen you for a long time.) It is also possible to use a perfect tense, as is done in English: No te he visto hace mucho tiempo. You may encounter both of these usages in everyday speech and writing, depending on the region you're in and the context of the remarks.
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