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In one short story in ...y no se lo tragó la tierra by Tomás Rivera, a weird grammatical construction stuck out to me:

El fulano vino como a las dos semanas en una camioneta y con una trailer.

The English translation included in the book is:

A man came about two weeks later in a station wagon hauling a trailer.

And again, several sentences later:

A la semana se fueron sin decir una palabra.

Translation:

A week later they left without saying a word.

This struck me as odd as I would have expected "a la semana siguiente".

Other common expressions for "a week later" I've seen are "una semana más tarde" or "una semana después". Most examples of "a la semana" I've seen have to do with rates, like "tres veces a la semana".

Is this a regional thing among migrant farm workers and/or in northern Mexico, or is it generally idiomatic Spanish?

  • Just to add to the confusion, in Colombia they use "otra semana" to mean next week. – aris Nov 5 '19 at 21:07
  • That seems pretty common? In this same book I'm reading at least, "otro día" is used to mean the next day. – Andy Nov 6 '19 at 22:18
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Collins has this as a definition:

3b (con tiempo transcurrido)
a la semana a week later
al año a year later

I have heard this expression from all social classes in Mexico. Unless someone says otherwise, I'd assume it's universal, across all countries and regions.

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  • Thanks, that definition is reassuring! I guess it was a huge surprise for me compared to other languages that "a", being such a nebulous preposition, could mean "after". – Andy Nov 4 '19 at 5:01
  • @andy It took me a while to find documentation. // I think it's approximately "up to." We had a recent question for this preposition being used for an upper bound or lower bound of a distance. But for the most part one should be prepared not to find much in the way of logic behind preposition selection. – aparente001 Nov 4 '19 at 5:56
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    Yes, a + definite noun phrase does mean after. You can say a la semana, al año, al rato and also (maybe not so common) spatially: al kilómetro, a los tres pasos. – pablodf76 Nov 4 '19 at 15:14

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