Number four

For

In expressions of time

There are various ways of translating for when it expresses completed periods of time:

for is not translated:

 

  •  I was/I worked in France for six months = estuve/trabajé seis meses en Francia

 

for is translated by durante, in which case the word order in Spanish is often slightly different from that in English:

 

  •  I worked as a teacher for five years = trabajé cinco años de profesor or trabajé de profesor durante cinco años

  •  he lived in Poland for twenty years = vivió veinte años en Polonia

 

or vivió en Polonia durante veinte años

To translate for when it expresses the duration of events which began in the past and are still going on, Spanish uses:

▪ desde hace

Where English uses the present perfect tense, Spanish uses the present tense:

 

  •  I’ve known him for years = lo conozco desde hace años

 

Where English uses the pluperfect tense, Spanish uses desde hacía + the pluperfect tense:

 

  •  he had lived there for 50 years = había vivido allí desde hacía 50 años

 

In some contexts, it uses desde hacía + the imperfect tense:

 

  •  he had lived there for years = vivía allí desde hacía años

 

▪ (desde) hace…que

The pattern of tenses here is the same as with desde hace:

 

  •  he’s been studying for years = (desde) hace años que estudia

  •  (for) how long have you been waiting? = ¿cuánto tiempo hace que estás esperando?

  •  I hadn’t had such a good meal for ages = desde hacía mucho que no comía tan bien

 

▪ the verb llevar

Where English uses the present perfect tense, Spanish uses the present tense of llevar:

 

  •  I’ve been in Spain for two years = llevo dos años en España

  •  she hasn’t seen him for months = lleva meses sin verlo

 

Where English uses the pluperfect tense, Spanish uses the imperfect:

 

  •  she hadn’t seen him for months = llevaba meses sin verlo

 

There are various ways of translating for when it expresses a period of time in the future:

for is not translated:

 

  •  I’ll be away for a week = voy a estar fuera una semana

 

▪ the preposition por

 

  •  I’m going away for a couple of days = voy por un par de días

  •  how long are you going for? = ¿por cuánto tiempo vas?

 

▪ the preposition durante

 

  •  I’ll be away for a week = voy a estar fuera durante una semana

 

For more examples and particular usages, see the entry for1

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