While “desde” can be translated as “since” and de as “of“, both words can mean “for”. This can cause a bit of confusion for people learning Spanish, as the distinction between the two isn’t always clear; in fact, in many cases the two are interchangeable (de aquí al centro and desde aquí al centro can be used for “from here to downtown”). So how do you know which “from” to use?
- DESDE tends to indicate the origin of an action, especially if a destination isn’t mentioned:
Fuimos en coche desde/de Madrid hasta/a Valencia (We drove from Madrid to Valencia).
Me llamó desde Nueva York (He called me from New York).
Corrió desde la playa (He ran from the beach).
Desde is also used with several other prepositions, creating phrases that also indicate motion. Below you can see just a few:
– Desde abajo (From below)
– Desde arriba (From above)
– Desde dentro (From within)
– Desde aquí (From here)
- DE which generally means “of“, can also be translated as “from” when indicating the origin of something or someone. Even if it sounds a bit strange, one little trick to keep in mind is that if “from” can be switched out for “of“, then you’re likely going to be using
Soy de México (I’m from/of México).
Sacó el dinero de la cartera (She took the money from/for her wallet).
Estamos cansados de trabajar (We are tired from/of working).
Recibí una carta de mi novio (I received a letter from my boyfriend).