Using desde (hace) with the present instead of the perfect tense to express since/for

How to express since/for (time) in Spanish

Have a look at these sentences:

No fumo desde hace un año.I have not smoked for a year.

Desde hace dos meses María está muy contenta.María has been very happy for 2 months.

No veo a Ana desde hace tres semanas.I have not seen Ana for three weeks.

Desde hace 24 horas no duermo.I haven't slept for 24 hours.

To express that you have done something for + [duration] - i.e. to talk about an action or event that started in the past but is still ongoing in the present - in Spanish you use El Presente with desde hace + [duration] as such: 

- Desde hace + [duration] + action in El Presente
or
- Action in El Presente desde hace + [duration]

 

You can never use El Pretérito Perfecto (like Present Perfect in English) with desde hace:
No he fumado fumo desde hace un año.

 
Desde + [specific date] = since + [specific date]

In the same context, you will use desde instead of desde hace when your action's starting point is a specific date

Vivo en Madrid desde septiembre.I have lived in Madrid since September.

Desde las ocho no come.He has not eaten since eight o'clock.

Desde el lunes voy al gimnasio.I've been going to the gym since Monday.

Bear in mind that English sometimes uses the present perfect progressive (have been doing) rather than the present perfect (have done). For example:

Vende coches desde 1987.He has been selling cars since 1987.

 

Note that if you want to ask someone "since when they've done something" the question is:

¿Desde cuándopresent tense?

Since when have you/have you not... ?

For example:

- ¿Desde cuándo fumas? -Desde hace dos años.- Since when have you smoked? - Since two years ago.

- ¿Desde cuándo no ves a tu padre? - Desde pequeño.Since when have you not seen your father? - Since I was little.

See also:

Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

No fumo desde hace un año.I have not smoked for a year.
Desde hace dos meses María está muy contenta.María has been very happy for 2 months.
No veo a Ana desde hace tres semanas.I have not seen Ana for three weeks.
Vivo en Madrid desde septiembre.I have lived in Madrid since September.
Desde hace 24 horas no duermo.I haven't slept for 24 hours.
Desde las ocho no come.He has not eaten since eight o'clock.
Desde el lunes voy al gimnasio.I've been going to the gym since Monday.
- ¿Desde cuándo no ves a tu padre? - Desde pequeño.Since when have you not seen your father? - Since I was little.
- ¿Desde cuándo fumas? -Desde hace dos años.- Since when have you smoked? - Since two years ago.
Vende coches desde 1987.He has been selling cars since 1987.
Clever stuff happening!