Do you know how to use the verbs “durar“, “tardar” and “llevar” in time expressions?
They work in a completely different way to English and, often, cause errors among students of Spanish as a foreign language. On the other hand, we, native Spanish speaker, use these three verbs all the time. Let’s see the best way to use them:
1..We use ‘durar + length of time” to express how long something lasts, where the subject of the sentence is the event:
El examen duró tres horas. (The exam lasted (for) three hours.)
¿Cuánto dura el vuelo a Madrid? (How long is the flight to Madrid? / How long does the flight to Madrid take?)
La reunión durará todo el día. (The conference will last the whole day.)
2. We use ‘tardar + amount of time + en + infinitive” to say how long it takes for someone (person, animal or thing) to do something; where the person, animal or thing will be the subject of the sentence.
Tardamos dos horas en llegar a Madrid en avión. (I took us three hours to get to Madrid by plane).
El avión tardó más de tres horas en llegar a Tenerife. (The plane took more than three hours to reach Tenerife.)
¿Cuánto se tarda en llegar de Málaga a Marbella en bicicleta? (How long does it take to go from Málaga to Marbella by bike?)
–.‘Tardar‘ also means to take too much time, as in delaying.
El tren tarda en llegar. (the train is late in arriving.)
–.Also be careful not to mistake verb “tardar” with the adjective tarde (late).
El tren llegó tres horas tarde. (the train arrived three hours late.)
3. We use ‘Llevar‘ + time + gerund to say for how long an action has been going on.
Lleva una hora esperando al teléfono (He has been waiting for one hour on the phone.)
Llevamos viviendo tres años en Medellín. ( We have been living in Medellín for three years).
– .‘Llevar’ + time + sin + infinitive: ‘to go / to be for + length of time + without’
Carmen lleva tres días sin dormir. (Carmen hasn’t slept for three days.)
– ‘Llevar’ + amount of time (+ en) + place. We use this expression to say how long someone or something has been somewhere.
Este restaurante lleva en este lugar desde hace más de cien años (This restaurant has been in this place for more than one hundred years.)
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas en Barcelona? (How long have you been in Barcelona?)