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Llevar y Pasar: Spending Time and Time Spent


Llevo ocho años en Estados Unidos.

I've spent eight years in the United States.

Caption 18, Maestra en Madrid - Nuria y amigo

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As we've mentioned, the verb llevar is used not only for "to carry," but also to speak about a duration of time.

Llevar is often used to imply that an action continues (or will continue in the future). In this case, Nuria tells us that she has spent eight years living in the USA (and she will continue to do so).

We might be tempted to translate the present tense conjugation llevo by also using the present tense in English -- "I spend" or "I am spending" -- but, to retain the same meaning as the Spanish, we use the present perfect, "I have spent..."


Llevo cinco horas viendo la televisión.
I've spent five hours watching television.
(I've been watching television for five hours.)

Ana lleva cinco días estudiando español para su próximo examen.
Ana has spent five days studying spanish for her next exam (and she continues studying).


Shortly thereafter Nuria informs us:


Pero pasé casi diez años en Madrid haciendo mis estudios...

But I spent nearly ten years in Madrid doing my studies...

Caption 22, Maestra en Madrid - Nuria y amigo

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The verb pasar, like llevar, can take on the meaning "to spend (time)", but pasar gives us the impression that the action is completed and does not continue. Nuria spent nearly ten years in Madrid, but she is no longer living there full time.


Ana pasó cinco días estudiando español.

Ana spent five days studying spanish (and then she stopped).


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