It has been a little while SINCE I’ve had time to work on this blog but, SINCE I have a few moments, I thought I’d write a quick article about how to say SINCE in Spanish. As you can tell from the first sentence, this little word has TWO meanings in English which are translated differently in Spanish. The word desde, which most students learn early on, works only in the first case and is used to express time. In order to express “since” in the sense of “given that” or “because”, we use the set expressions dado que, puesto que and ya que. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll attempt to translate and dissect the opening line of this article to make the concept as clear as possible.
First off, we need to familiarize ourselves with desde as it refers to time. The way it’s used in Spanish takes a little getting used to, as it can be followed by a noun, a verb (with “que”) or a phrase in time-related expressions. Here are a few examples:
“Desde joven es mi pasión aprender idiomas” = Since I was young, learning languages is [has been] my passion.
English requires “I was” after “since,” otherwise the sentence doesn’t make sense. Spanish, however, can omit the verb altogether and go straight to the noun. It is equally valid to say “Desde que era joven…” and, in this way, do as we do in English. When referring directly to a specific dates or times, however, English can place a noun after “since,” such as in the sentence “It hasn’t rained since Saturday.” In Spanish this would be “No ha llovido desde el sábado,” a near exact translation. Here’s an example with a verb:
“Desde que la vi por primera vez, me quedé enamorado.” = Since I first saw her, I fell in love.
In this example, you need to add “que” to connect desde to the verb. This is something we don’t do in English.
A phrase with desde could look like this:
“No habrá servicio desde antes de las 10.00 de la noche hasta las 6.00 de la mañana” = There will be no service from before 10 PM until 6 AM.”
In this example, a better translation for desde is “from.” In English, we use “since” only to refer to time periods which originated in the past, but Spanish doesn’t have that limitation. It is as correct to say “desde mañana” as “desde ayer.”
A very common construction in Spanish is “desde hace + time expression.” It’s a little hard to translate into English, but it basically refers to the period of time in which something has been occurring or how much time has transpired since something happened:
“Desde hace mucho tiempo que estudio idiomas.” = I’ve been studying languages for a long time.
“Desde hace un año que no la veo.” = I haven’t seen her in a year.
You use periods of time with desde hace, whereas with desde you use concrete times or dates, as in the previous example “No ha llovido desde el sábado.” The following example illustrates this subtle, but important difference:
“Vivo aquí desde el mes pasado” = I’ve been living here since last month.
“Vivo aquí desde hace un mes.” = I’ve been living here for a month.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss how to express “since” when we mean “because” or “due to.” We don’t use desde in this context at all. The three expressions dado que, puesto que and ya que fill this role and are nearly identical and interchangeable in Spanish, with the minor nuance that dado que and puesto que translate roughly as “given that”, whereas ya que can also mean “now that”:
“Dado que no nos queda dinero, no vamos a ir de vacaciones.” = Since we have no money left, we are not going on vacation.
“Puesto que está haciendo mal tiempo, no podemos salir hoy.” = Since the weather is bad, we can’t go out today.
“Ya que lo mencionas, no la veo desde hace mucho tiempo.” = Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen her in a long time.
“Dado que han cambiado las circunstancias, vamos a cambiar de planes.” = Given that the circumstances have changed, we’re going to change the plans.”
“No puedo acompañarte, ya que se me está haciendo tarde.” = I can’t go with you as it is getting late on me.
Although these expressions are easy enough to use, it’s possible to circumvent them by simply using “como” (without an accent):
“Como ya no hay dinero, no vamos a ir de vacaciones.” = As there is now no money, we are not going on vacation.
“Como está haciendo mal tiempo, no podemos salir hoy.” = As the weather is bad, we are not going out.
“Como ya lo mencionas, no la veo desde hace mucho tiempo.” = Since you now mention it, I haven’t seen her in a long time.
And so on…
Cómo with an accent means “how”, but when you remove the accent it means “as” or “since”. You’ll hear native speakers use como all the time, but it’s also pretty common to use dado que, puesto que and ya que for the same purpose.
If you take nothing else from this article, remember that desde is only used for SINCE when we’re referring to time, whereas we use other words and expressions when we mean BECAUSE. This is one of those cases in which the English word has a double and somewhat confounding meaning, and we have to make the distinction in Spanish.
Puesto que tengo mucho que hacer hoy, y llevo desde la mañana con este artículo, me despido por ahora… ¡hasta pronto!