Common Ground International Impacts Communities Through Language - Learn Spanish - Learn English - Spanish Immersion Trips - Translation

2 Medical Spanish Ways To Say “For How Long” & “How Long Ago” in Spanish

2 Medical Spanish Ways To Say “For How Long” & “How Long Ago” in Spanish

In this free Medical Spanish lesson you will learn how to say For How Long and How Long Ago in Spanish: Por cuánto tiempo y desde hace cuánto tiempo.

In this free Medical Spanish lesson you will learn:

  • How to use “¿Cuánto tiempo hace que… ?” and “¿Hace cuánto que…?”
  • Examples in the clinical setting to start using these phrases

Here is the “For How Long” and “How Long Ago” in Spanish lesson that I taught on YouTube and to our Facebook group:

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see all of our lessons and get the latest videos right away!

Download the Medical Spanish Notes TODAY

Unas estructuras lógicas – Some Logical Structures

When you want to talk about the history of a patient’s current problem, you usually ask at least these two questions:

  • ¿Por cuánto tiempo…? – For how long…?
  • ¿Desde cuándo…? – Since when…?

These structures are useful if you are on the beginner level of Spanish because they can be used with present tense verbs and they’re perfect when it comes to getting answers for questions such as:

  • ¿Por cuánto tiene dolor de cabeza? – How long have you had a headache?
  • ¿Desde cuándo tiene dolor de cabeza? – Since when do you have a headache?

But there are other “not very english” structures to ask these questions that native Spanish speakers use often:

  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que…?
  • ¿Hace cuánto que…?

The literal translation of these structures don’t make much sense in English, but they help you sound more natural when talking with your Latino patients.

They can be used to express either since when or ago. Now, how can you know when to use one or another? The answer is: it depends on the tense of the verb that follows the question, and these tenses could be present tense or preterite tense.

La regla es – The rule is

  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que…? or ¿Hace cuánto que…? + presente = have you had
  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que…? or ¿Hace cuánto que…? + pretérito = did you have

Ejemplos de uso – Examples:

  • ¿Hace cuánto que tiene dolor de espalda? – How long have you had back pain?
  • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que tuvo dolor de espalda? – How long ago did you have back pain?

How To Use These Structures With the Spanish Present Tense

tratamiento-treatment-medical-Spanish
Credits: Photo by National Cancer Institute

Let’s see how you can use “¿Hace cuánto que…?” and “¿Cuánto tiempo hace que…?” with the present tense verbs in Spanish.

SpanishEnglish
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que tiene fiebre?How long have you had a fever?
¿Hace cuánto que le duele la cabeza?How long has you head been hurting?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que está con su pareja nueva?How long have you been with your new partner?
¿Hace cuánto que trabaja para Starbucks?How long have you worked for Starbucks?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que le arde al orinar?How long have you had burning when you urinate?
¿Hace cuánto que se siente triste y fatigado?How long have you been feeling sad and fatigued?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que le cuesta subir las escaleras?How long has it been difficult for you to go upstairs?

Note: the noun “pareja” is always feminine, and it doesn’t change with any gender. It’s not correct to say “el pareja” or “la pareja + adjetivo masculino” (such as la pareja nuevo); but you can specify the gender when describing the person you are talking about.

Por ejemplo:

  • La pareja nueva de Andrea es un muchacho muy guapo: Andrea’s new partner is a very handsome guy.
  • La pareja nueva de Andrea es una muchacha muy guapa: Andrea’s new partner is a very beautiful girl.

How To Use These Structures With the Spanish Preterite Tense

As you can see, you can use the same start structure but the following verb is going to be in preterite tense.

SpanishEnglish
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que tuvo fiebre?How long ago did you have a fever?
¿Hace cuánto que le dolió la cabeza?How long ago did you have a headache?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que estuvo con su pareja anterior?How long ago was it that you were with your previous partner?
¿Hace cuánto que trabajó para Starbucks?How long ago did you work for Starbucks?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que notó el ardor?How long ago did you notice the burning?
¿Hace cuánto que estuvo deprimido?How long ago were you depressed?
¿Cuánto tiempo hace que paró de hacer ejercicio?How long ago did you stop doing exercise?

Unos ejercicios extra – Some Extra Practice

shot-inyeccion-medical-spanish
Credits: Chang Duong 

You can think of phrases to use with these structures, just remember if you want to ask questions regarding the present or the past so you can add the correct tense that follows the question.

More examples:

  • How long ago did the pain start?
    • ¿Hace cuánto que empezó el dolor?
  • How long have you been feeling like this?
    • ¿Hace cuánto que se siente así?
  • How long have you lived in the USA?
    • ¿Hace cuánto que vive en los Estados Unidos?
  • How long have you had diabetes?
    • ¿Hace cuánto que tiene diabetes?
  • How long ago did the tingling start?
    • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que empezó el hormigueo?
  • How long have you been constipated?
    • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que tiene estreñimiento?
  • How long ago was your last Tetanus shot?
    • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que tuvo su última vacuna contra el tétano?
  • How long ago did the nausea start?
    • ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que empezó la nausea?

Download the Medical Spanish Notes TODAY

Su tarea – Your Homework

  1. Review the notes & vocabulary
  2. Identify additional points and topics to discuss with patients
    • Let me know if you need help 🙂
  3. Remember to keep it simple if you need to
  4. Ask for help in the comments below
  5. Give it a try with your patients!

Now it’s your turn! I packaged all of this vocabulary in Spanish into some flashcards for you to study.

I packaged all of this into easily downloadable .pdf notes–Get your copy for free today!

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

*If the link isn’t working for you, you may need to unblock pop-ups in your browser settings

Thinking About Immersion?

If you think you are ready to take the plunge with your Spanish, we would love the opportunity to work with you in Ecuador or Costa Rica during our immersion programs 🙂

Rory Foster
Posted on:
Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
Post author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *