In Spanish we can use the verb llevar followed by a gerund (Gerundio) in order to express the duration of an ongoing action:
llevar (conjugated) + gerund
Have a look at the following examples:
Carlos lleva trabajando en ese colegio dos años.Carlos has been working in that school for two years.
El profesor llevaba hablando con el estudiante diez minutos cuando entramos en la habitación.The teacher had been talking with the student for ten minutes when we entered the room.
Llevo tres días estudiando para el examen.I've been studying for the exam for three days.
- the time phrase (tres días, diez minutos, dos años...) can be placed either at the end of the verbal structure or in between the verb llevar and the gerund.
- the Spanish tenses used with this structure are El Presente and El Pretérito Imperfecto. The perfect tenses are not used.
- However, note that the equivalent tenses in English are the perfect tenses or the progressive perfect tenses (have done, have been doing, had been doing,...)
The negative form
If we want to express the same but in the negative, the structure changes to:
llevar (conjugated) + sin + infinitive
Llevamos sin dormir desde ayer.We haven't slept since yesterday.
Llevaba cinco años sin fumar.He hadn't smoked for five years.
Llevo sin ver la tele desde el sábado pasado.I haven't watched TV since last Saturday.
You can see that in the negative form, the time phrase can also be placed straight after llevar, or after the whole structure.
See also Llevar vs Llevarse (pronominal verbs) and Using llevar + participio to express the completion of an action so far (perífrasis verbal)
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