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Hace+ time+ que

 

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  #11  
Old January 23, 2023, 09:43 AM
Oldman Oldman is offline
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Using Hace + time+ que methodology, how would you ask and answer:

"How long did you visit your family for?" "I visited them for a month" and also, "I visited them for a month a year ago."
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  #12  
Old January 23, 2023, 09:53 AM
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You can't ask questions 1 and 2 using 'hace'. These questions are after the amount of time (period of duration). Study up on how 'durante' is used to ask these kinds of questions.
The first part of question 3 is the same as question 2, so it translates the same way. The last part of the question - "a year ago" - is the only place where 'hace' is used.
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  #13  
Old January 23, 2023, 10:39 AM
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thanks again !
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  #14  
Old January 23, 2023, 02:01 PM
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A native Mexican told me that it is not proper to use "no" and the preterite tense in combination; use one or the other but not both. (at least that is how I understood her to say)
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  #15  
Old January 23, 2023, 03:36 PM
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I don't know what you showed or asked her, nor do I know if she understood it, but either what she said or what you think she said is mistaken.

I suppose the sentences you posted at first in this thread came from your textbook. The same exact sentences can be found elsewhere on the internet. Some can validly complain that the sentences in a textbook sound contrived and that they'll never be used in real life. I agree. You may never use the exact wording anytime in the future, but the structure being taught will definitely be used.

Please try to learn the structure being taught in your textbook, paying attention to when you might use it yourself. Trust that the book is teaching correct concepts and usage.
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  #16  
Old January 24, 2023, 03:25 AM
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yeah, there was one sentence about studying medicine in the text and I've made up all the other stuff about the negations. Here's where I am at, which I think is probably 'just about ' correct:

If you want to know how long someone has been doing something - you use the present tense. How long have you been sitting there? How long have you been eating dinner?, etc,

If you want to know how long ago something happened or how long it's been since you did something, you have two paths, which are different, but essentially get you to the same place : you use the preterite OR you use the negation with the present tense,

The use of the negation and the preterite is the awkward one : How long has it been since you haven't studied medicine? How long has it been since you haven't visited your parents?. How long has it been since you haven't posted a reply to the oldman's thread ? Though maybe technically correct to combine a negative ("no") with the preterite, it seems to be awkward and perhaps not common.
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  #17  
Old January 24, 2023, 07:03 AM
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Negation in the preterit isn't awkward at all, and is used in everyday conversation.

The 'Cuánto tiempo hace + action clause, introduced by que' structure allows for negation in the preterit, as well. Question 2 is all about that, and it's a good question that can be used when asking about a period of time when an action was NOT taken.

I think what makes it seem awkward to you is that you're using less than accurate English wording.
Translate 'estudiaste' as "did study" (since this is a question, English insists we use an auxilary verb and a main verb).
Translate 'no estudiaste' as 'didn't study'.

1. ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que estudiaste medicina?
- How long ago did you study medicine?
2. ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que no estudiaste medicina?
- How long ago didn't you study medicine?

Question 2 still sounds awkward, doesn't it?
One thing is clear, though. We are asking about NOT studying in the past.

Let's reformulate the translation of the opening clause (prior to the action clause) to see if it sounds any better.

Instead of opening with "How long ago," let's try "How much time has passed."
To introduce the action clause, let's substitute 'since', because we English speakers don't normally say the conjunction 'que' (that) Spanish requires.

"How much time has passed since you didn't study medicine?"
This rendition of the Spanish question sounds a little better. But we can do better.

We could reduce "How much time has passed" to "How long." Then we can dismiss the conjunction altogether, since it isn't a requirement in English.

"How long didn't you study medicine?"
Better?

This reformulated English translation conveys the meaning of Question 2. It doesn't sound awkward at all.

It's clear to see that Question 2 isn't the same as the other three questions.
Each Spanish question was precisely formulated to ask a certain thing.

The only thing that changed in each question was the action's tense.
When negation was added, the opposing action is being asked.

I hope this helps!

Last edited by Rusty; January 24, 2023 at 07:13 AM. Reason: wording made more clear
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  #18  
Old January 25, 2023, 03:44 AM
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tbh, I wish a native Mexican would throw in a comment as to the use or frequency of using negation with the preterite. I can't really disagree with you because I am just learning Spanish.

¿Cuánto tiempo hace que no estudiaste medicina?

The thing is, as I understand it, the preterite is dealing with an event that has a start and a finish.

Let's assume that you began not studying at time M (M could be the day you were born). Let's assume that you stopped not studying at time N (meaning that you began to study) and let's assume that today is time. P

Are you thinking the question is asking what N -M is, or what P-N is?

Last edited by Oldman; January 25, 2023 at 05:57 AM.
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  #19  
Old January 25, 2023, 09:37 AM
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People who ask about when an action happened are concerned only with when the action started or when it ended. Everything in between was an ongoing process, and the preterit tense can't be used for that.
There are ways to ask any question you can think of, but you shouldn't venture down path after path and expect that all employ the same Spanish structure.


It's true that the preterit is called for when an action had a start and end in the past, but, as I stated earlier, the event may have never occurred. You need to ask the right question to get the response you're looking for. And the response may be "That never happened." That doesn't mean the same thing as "I never started" or "I never stopped."

Let's focus on discussing the structure you wrote in the thread title.
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  #20  
Old January 30, 2023, 08:46 PM
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It's important that you focus first on how the sentences are built, i.e. where the "no" goes in each case, then in what contexts it should be used and in the end, the general idea in English. Notice I didn't say "the translation" into English. This is because many sentences you will find in your learning won't have a perfect equivalent in English, and the more you translate, the less you'll think in English and the less fluent you'll be in Spanish.


As for "hace cuánto tiempo que no + past tense":

Quote:
(Perhaps the negation of the past tense is the present tense, and the negation of the present tense is the past tense? Dare I go that far?!!!!)
—Never. A negative particle before a verb never will change the tense by itself. I doubt this could happen in any known language.
When the sentence says "hace cuánto tiempo que no estudiaste medicina" would be asking about the moment when the listener made the decision against studying medicine in the past, as the conjugated verb is implying, but is still affecting the person in the present.


First of all, this is not a common case of "hace + que", because this structure is always used to talk about an ongoing situation:
- ¿Hace cuánto que fuiste a París? -> You went to Paris once, but the fact is the situation of not going to Paris is still happening.
- ¿Hace cuánto que estudias español? -> Both situations are ongoing, so the verb "estudias" agrees perfectly with "hace + que".

Now, when we build this structure with a negative particle, we need to consider the ongoing situation as well:
- No hace mucho que vi a Pedro. -> When the negative particle goes in front of "hacer + que", the ongoing situation is still valid. In this case, it hasn't been very long since I last saw Pedro. "Vi" marks a situation that only happened once in the past, and "no hace mucho" allows me to tell my appreciation of the little time that has passed since that happened, and it's still ongoing until I decide it's been long enough.

An ongoing situation agrees with another in the present tense:
- ¿Hace cuánto que no visitas a tu familia? -> Since the situation of not visiting your family is still true, then we use "no visitas"; a negative particle in front of the verb, conjugated in the present, just like "hace + que".

But we have a problem with "no + past tense" in the second verb:
I've had to think about this really hard, because I can't really explain the "grammatical malaise" I'm experimenting with your example.
"¿Hace cuánto tiempo que no estudiaste medicina?" sounds a bit crazy. This "que no" immediately calls for a verb in the present tense. If you ask anyone I know, they will say "that's wrong, you must ask "hace cuánto que no estudias…"
I couldn't find a grammar book or note where I could find an actual explanation why this construction sounds incorrect, but I found a situation where this might make sense for the speaker and the listener: If you both already know that your life was determined by one decision involving not studying medicine, and your friend isn't certain how long ago this decision was made, they might ask "hace cuánto que no estudiaste medicina". However, this is very unusual and I doubt you'll ever find this combination of "hace + que + no + past tense".

So as Rusty has been explaining, my advice is that you learn how to use this sentence in general, and focus on how it's built. I think the most important thing in these examples is how the negative particle is inserted to introduce a different meaning. Just don't despair on unusual constructions. We're here to help with them.
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