Cuando + indicative for past events (adverbial clauses)

Cuando is always used with past tenses in the indicative to express "when something happened/has happened/had happened". We understand that these actions actually took place, there is no doubt about it.

For example:

María se enfadó mucho cuando Marcos llegó a casa muy tarde.
María got crossed when Marcos arrived home very late.

Marta solía pasar el verano en Torremolinos cuando era pequeña.
Marta used to spend the summer in Torremolinos when she was a little girl.

Cuando mi novio ha llegado a casa, yo le he ofrecido un café.
When my boyfriend got home, I offered him a coffee.

Mi madre me llamó por teléfono cuando yo ya me había acostado.
My mum rang me when I had already gone to bed.

Cuando + subjunctive

If we use past tenses in the subjunctive with cuando, then we will not be referring to past events but future or hypothetical events.

Here are some examples:

Cuando hayas vuelto de Londres podrás practicar más tu inglés.
When you return from London you will be able to practice your English more. (future event)

Ella te habría perdonado cuando tú le hubieras pedido perdón.
She would have forgiven you when you had apologised to her. (hypothetical situation)

Dijo que me llamaría cuando llegara al hotel.
He said he'd call me when he arrives at the hotel. (future/hypothetical event)

None of the above refer to actions that actually happened in the past.

See also Cuando + El Presente de Subjuntivo vs Cuando + El Presente de Indicativo

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Cuando hayas vuelto de Londres podrás practicar más tu inglés.
When you return from London you will be able to practice your English more. (future event)


Cuando mi novio ha llegado a casa, yo le he ofrecido un café.
When my boyfriend got home, I offered him a coffee.


Marta solía pasar el verano en Torremolinos cuando era pequeña.
Marta used to spend the summer in Torremolinos when she was a little girl.


María se enfadó mucho cuando Marcos llegó a casa muy tarde.
María got crossed when Marcos arrived home very late.


Dijo que me llamaría cuando llegara al hotel.
He said he'd call me when he arrives at the hotel. (future/hypothetical event)


Ella te habría perdonado cuando tú le hubieras pedido perdón.
She would have forgiven you when you had apologised to her. (hypothetical situation)


Mi madre me llamó por teléfono cuando yo ya me había acostado.
My mum rang me when I had already gone to bed.


Q&A Forum 1 question, 3 answers

Only one question?? :)

Asked 4 months ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hola Nick

Sorry, technical problem. It should be ok now.

Gracias y un saludo

Inma

Still looks like just one question? 

:)

ShuiKwiziq language super star

Hola - I've got someone looking into this - will hopefully be resolved soon!

Thanks for letting us know

Saludos

Shui

Only one question?? :)

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