Unit 10: Structures with “hacer,” introduction to perfect tenses, translation considerations (part 1)

10.2 Other Verbs Used Like Hacer

Two other common verbs are also used non-systemically.


Acabar (“to finish,” “to end”) is used in the present tense, followed by de + infinitive, and translates as “to have just done something”:

Acaban de firmar el tratado. They have just signed the treaty.

As with hace when combined with a present tense verb, the present tense equals present perfect meaning in the above example.

Just as we saw when hacía combines with a past tense verb, usually the imperfect, the imperfect tense of acabar equals past perfect meaning:

Acababan de firmar el tratado. They had just signed the treaty.


The verb llevar plus duration of time often translates as a form of “to be” and when combined, as it often is, with a present participle, means “to have been doing (something)”:

Llevo cinco años en este pueblo deprimente. I have been (living) in this depressing town for five years.
Lleva veinte minutos tronando. It has been thundering for twenty minutes.

The first example above is merely another way of expressing Hace cinco años que vivo en este pueblo deprimente.

Likewise, llevar is used in the same circumstance but in the imperfect tense and translates as “had been” (past perfect tense) or, with the present participle, “had been doing” (something):

Su familia llevaba más de ciento quince años en este país. Her family had been (living) in this country for more than 115 years.

Desde = since

As is often the case in English, the mere inclusion of the word desde (“since”) in a sentence with a present tense verb normally renders the meaning to be present perfect. Likewise, when desde appears in a sentence in the imperfect tense, the meaning routinely shifts to past perfect tense.

Mi tío está aquí desde enero. My uncle  has worked (has been working) here since January.
Trabajaban en esa fábrica desde junio. They had worked (had been working) in that factory since June.



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