I’ve noticed in a lot of Spanish books, when English/Spanish translations are given, the order of time declarations is different between languages. For example:

I usually work on Saturdays but in the evening we sometimes have a barbecue. / Normalmente trabajo los sábados pero a veces hacemos una barbacoa por la tarde.

^ In the Spanish “evening” comes at the end of the sentence.

He did it a long time ago. / Hace mucho tiempo lo hizo.

^ In the Spanish, “long time ago” comes at the start.

And what shall we do on Sunday? / Y el domingo, ¿qué hacemos?

^ In the English, “Sunday” comes at the end.

On Sunday we usually do sport. / Normalmente los domingos hacemos deporte.

^In the English ”Sunday” comes at the start. In Spanish, Normalmente comes at the start.

Is there are rule in Spanish about the order in which time declarations must be placed. Or are the above examples just translation quirks (Although these examples come from different books, so it seems odd that they would all have quirks).

  • 1
    The order doesn't matter gramatically, but certain conventions of order are preferred and if you follow them, you tend to sound more like a fluent speaker.
    – Paul
    Jun 5, 2016 at 15:33
  • @Paul Do you have a list of these conventions (or know a place that has them) Based on the examples I have posted above, they don't seem very obvious. Thanks!
    – big_smile
    Jun 5, 2016 at 15:41
  • 4
    In Spanish, and I guess in all languages, we play with the position. What you want to emphasize or find most important normally goes first.
    – fedorqui
    Jun 5, 2016 at 15:46
  • 1
    Regarding the "long time ago" sentence, there are several ways to phrase the same idea: "Hace mucho tiempo lo hizo" is fine, but people would generally say either "hace mucho tiempo que lo hizo" or "lo hizo hace mucho tiempo", the former being slightly more common.
    – Yay
    Jun 5, 2016 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Short answer: see @fedorqui's comment. ;-)

Long answer: The translations you saw in the books are not the only ones that can apply to each case. The following examples are all valid:

I usually work on Saturdays but in the evening we sometimes have a barbecue.

Los sábados normalmente trabajo, pero por las tardes a veces hacemos barbacoas.

This sentence may come from a question like ¿Qué haces los sábados?, so the answer may start putting the emphasis in los sábados by repeating the last part of the question. In the second part you may choose to start with por las tardes or a veces hacemos barbacoas, depending on what you want to emphasise.

He did it a long time ago.

(Aquello) lo hizo hace mucho tiempo. / Hace mucho tiempo de aquello. / Hace ya mucho de aquello.

Same as before, the previous question could be something regarding what he/she did (not when), so the answer may start with what the person did (it/aquello) and leave the time to the last part. Or you can put the emphasis in the time part, as in the second example. Note the use of aquello to put even more emphasis on the fact of the event being far in time. You can even drop tiempo as in the third example.

In this case, I can't read aloud these sentences without putting an uf before: Uf, hace ya mucho de aquello.

And what shall we do on Sunday?

¿Y qué hacemos el domingo? / ¿Y el domingo qué hacemos?

On Sunday we usually do sport.

Nosotros los domingos solemos hacer deporte. / Nosotros solemos hacer deporte los domingos.

One more time, examples of these sentences depend on what you want to emphasise. In the answer, I added the nosotros as a remark that there are two parts in the conversation, and that the answer only affects to one part.

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