How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (2023)

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (1)

September 17, 2021 by Olga Put Spanish Grammar 0 comments

Three verbs exist to talk about length of time in Spanish—durar, tardar, and llevar. But learning Spanish is not only the translation of English words and sentences but also learning how the language works.

So, instead of asking what durar, tardar, and llevar mean, let’s see how these verbs function in Spanish sentences.

Keep reading to learn the many ways to talk about duration and time in Spanish!

Durar, Tardar, Llevar – Let’s Talk about Time!

Now we’ll take a detailed look at durar, tardar, llevar. Although they’re regular verbs (so not complicated in terms of conjugation), these verbs are sometimes tricky to combine with other words.

Durar

Durar in Spanish means to last for a certain period of time, or to take a certain period of time, or to continue being good or suitable for a certain period of time.

There’s no preposition before the time period, so the formula is straightforward:

durar + period of time

La película duró dos horas.
The movie lasted two hours.

¿Cuánto dura la excursión?
How long is the excursion?

Las baterías deberían durar unas 5 horas si las cuidas.
The batteries should last about 5 hours if you use them well.

¡Estos zapatos me duraron 10 años!
These shoes lasted me 10 years!

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (2)

Using Se

Durar is not a reflexive verb, but you can use it with the se intensivo or se delimitador to emphasize the completion of the time period.

Me duré muchísimo haciendo las compras.
It took me a long time to do the shopping.

Check out how to master reflexive verbs in Spanish to learn more about this peculiar use of se.

Using Por

Although you don’t need a preposition with durar, it’s also possible and grammatically correct to put por before the period of time.

durar + por + period of time

Nuestra amistad duró por cinco años.
Our friendship lasted (for) five years.

Tardar

Tardar in Spanish means to take a certain period of time to do something.

tardar + period of time

You can use it in a similar way to durar with a period of time.

El vuelo tarda tres horas.
The flight takes three hours.

El autobús tarda media hora.
The bus takes half an hour.

tardar + period of time + en + infinitive

However, it’s more common to add an infinitive that expresses the action in which time is used. This is introduced with the preposition en.

Tardé cinco horas en leer el libro.
It took me five hours to read the book.

¿Cuánto tardas en llegar de Guadalajara a Monterrey?
How long does it take to get from Guadalajara to Monterrey?

Take too much time

If you use the verb tardar without adding the length of time, the meaning slightly changes. In this case, it means “to delay” or “to take too much time.”

Mi pedido tarda en llegar.
My order is taking a long time to arrive.

Sometimes, tardar in this meaning can turn pronominal:

No me tardo, espérame 10 minutes.
I won’t be late, wait for me for 10 minutes.

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (3)

Llevar

Llevar in Spanish expresses how the length of time an activity has lasted from a certain moment in the past until now.

According to Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (Panhispanic Dictionary of Doubts), llevar in Spanish means:

estar [durante un período de tiempo] en una misma situación o en un mismo lugar
to be [for a period of time] in the same situation or in the same place

There are many possible combinations with this verb:

llevar + period of time + (en) + place

Use it to talk about how long somebody or something has been in a certain place.

Ya llevo dos años en España.
I’ve been in Spain for two years now.

Este edificio lleva aquí no más de 3 meses.
This building has been here no more than 3 months.

llevar + (en) + place + desde + date

Modify the above construction and substitute the period of time after llevar with a specific moment in the past introduced with desde.

Llevo en España desde enero.
I have been in Spain since January.

Estos zapatos tuyos llevan aquí desde la semana pasada.
These shoes of yours have been here since last week.

llevar + period of time + adjective / past participle
or
llevar + adjective / past participle + period of time

To talk about the state of things and people for a certain period of time, use adjectives or past participle forms.

Llevo tres días enferma. / Llevo enferma tres días.
I’ve been sick for three days.

El coche lleva unas 2 semanas descompuesto./ El coche lleva descompuesto unas dos semanas.
The car has been broken for about 2 weeks.

llevar + adjective / past participle + desde + date

Use adjectives and past participles with llevar to talk about the moment in time when the specific state or condition started.

Mi lavadora lleva rota desde ayer.
My washing machine has been broken since yesterday.

Jorge lleva enfermo desde la Navidad.
Jorge has been ill since Christmas.

llevar + gerund + period of time
or
llevar + period of time + gerund (affirmative constructions)

When using gerunds with llevar, you emphasize how long an action has been going on.

Mi hermana lleva cuatro horas cantando. / Mi hermana lleva cantando cuatro horas.
My sister has been singing for four hours.

Llevamos tres años comiendo el mismo pescado. / Llevamos comiendo el mismo pescado tres años.
We have been eating the same fish for three years.

llevar + gerund + period of time

For affirmative constructions and to talk about the length of an activity, use the same construction with a gerund and add a point of time in the past introduced by desde.

Llevo viviendo aquí desde mi infancia.
I’ve been living here since my childhood.

La señora lleva llorando desde que le robaron la cartera.
The lady has been crying since her wallet was stolen.

llevar + period of time + sin + infinitive (negative constructions)

For negative constructions that talk about a period of time without a certain activity, use sin + infinitive.

Llevo 10 años sin verte.
I have not seen you for 10 years.

Lleva dos meses sin comer dulces.
He has not eaten sweets for two months.

llevar + sin + infinitive + desde + date / moment in time
or
llevar + desde + date / moment in time + sin + infinitive

This negative construction also goes with desde + moment in time or date.

Llevo sin tomar Coca-cola desde verano. / Llevo desde el verano sin tomar Coca-cola.
I have not had Coke since summer.

Llevan sin salir de su casa desde enero. / Llevan desde enero sin salir de su casa.
They have not left their home since January.

llevar + period of time +de + infinitive

You can also use this formula for negative constructions although it’s less common than the one with sin.

Llevo siete meses de no verte.
I have not seen you for seven months.

Lleva años de no lavar su coche.
He has not washed his car for years.

llevarle a alguien + period of time

This construction means to be older than somebody for a certain period of time.

Mi hermano me lleva cinco años.
My brother is five years older than me.

Mi hijo lleva al tuyo seis meses.
My son is six months older than yours.

Durar, Tardar, Llevar Quiz

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (5)

Let’s see how much you’ve learned about durar, tardar, and llevar.

1. La clase de matemáticas ________ más de una hora.

Correct! Wrong!

2. El tren ________ 2 horas en llegar a Madrid.

Correct! Wrong!

3. Te ________ cinco años.

Correct! Wrong!

4. ________ 8 meses sin llover.

Correct! Wrong!

5. ________ hablando 47 minutos.

Correct! Wrong!

6. El viaje de mi pueblo a la capital ________ 2 horas y 20 minutos.

Correct! Wrong!

7. Normalmente ________ media hora en llegar a casa.

Correct! Wrong!

8. Las baterías no ________ mucho.

Correct! Wrong!

9. ________ en México desde el año pasado.

Correct! Wrong!

10. Juan ________ enfermo desde ayer.

Correct! Wrong!

Durar, Tardar, Llevar Quiz

Wow, you've mastered durar, tardar, and llevar in Spanish! Good job!

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (6)

You've got a solid understanding of how to use the verbs durar, tardar, and llevar and the quality of your Spanish conversations are exploding through the roof!

You've almost mastered durar, tardar, and llevar in Spanish. Your consistent practice is leading to better results!

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (7)

As you keep up your hard work and practice, you're starting to understand better how to use durar, tardar, and llevar. For more study materials, keep up-to-date with our newest published blog posts at Homeschool Spanish Academy. *YOU'RE ALMOST THERE! You can do it!* Do you prefer learning with videos? Check out our YouTube channel Spanish Academy TV for the best Spanish learning content on the web

Practice makes perfect! Keep on studying!

How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar (8)

Your motivation to learn Spanish is an essential ingredient to success! If you're ready to take your Spanish to the next level and master the usage of durar, tardar, and llevar, then join us for a free Spanish class with one of our friendly, certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. Sign up today!

Use Durar, Tardar, and Llevar in a Conversation!

Well done! This is advanced grammar, and you can be proud of yourself! You’re so close to the dream fluency in Spanish! What motivates you to achieve this goal?

Traveling easily is just one of the perks of being bilingual. You can also improve your quality of life and ask your boss for a raise. Yes! According to a study conducted by The Economist, a person can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $125,000 extra just by knowing a foreign language alone.

Why wait? Give your Spanish a boost and practice talking about the length of time in Spanish. Sign up for a free trial class with one of our professional, native-speaking teachers from Guatemala and take your knowledge about durar, tardar, and llevar to the next level.

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Olga Put

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

I'm a Spanish philologist, teacher, and freelance writer with a Master's degree in Humanities from Madrid. I speak Polish, Spanish, and English fluently, and want to get better in Portuguese and German. A lover of literature, and Mexican spicy cuisine, I've lived in Poland, Spain, and Mexico and I'm currently living and teaching in Madeira, Portugal.

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