Using Hacía + length of time + que + the imperfect tense to express duration in the past

To express "how long" something had been happening for, in Spanish you use:

Hacía + [length of time] + que + verb in El Pretérito Imperfecto

 Have a look and listen to these examples:

Hacía unos meses que trabajaba con su padre.
He had been working with his dad for a few months.

Hacía varios días que le dolía el estómago.
His stomach had been hurting for several days.

Hacía dos semanas que no veía a su novia.
He hadn't seen his girlfriend for two weeks.

This structure is also often followed by another sentence expressing an interruption with cuando. For example:

Hacía dos semanas que no la veía cuando ella lo llamó de repente.
He hadn't seen her for two weeks when she suddenly called him.

Hacía tres años que trabajaba allí cuando lo despidieron.
He had been working there for 3 years when he was fired.

The order of the sentence can be modified as long as you follow this structure:

Verb in El Pretérito Imperfecto + desde hacía + length of time

For example:

Trabajaba en la empresa desde hacía tres años.
He had been working in the company for 3 years.

No veía películas del oeste desde hacía años.
I hadn't watched a Western for years. [lit: Western films]

See also:

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Hacía tres años que trabajaba allí cuando lo despidieron.
He had been working there for 3 years when he was fired.


Hacía dos semanas que no la veía cuando ella lo llamó de repente.
He hadn't seen her for two weeks when she suddenly called him.


Hacía dos semanas que no veía a su novia.
He hadn't seen his girlfriend for two weeks.


No veía películas del oeste desde hacía años.
I hadn't watched a Western for years. [lit: Western films]


Hacía varios días que le dolía el estómago.
His stomach had been hurting for several days.


Trabajaba en la empresa desde hacía tres años.
He had been working in the company for 3 years.


Hacía unos meses que trabajaba con su padre.
He had been working with his dad for a few months.


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