What’s the difference between recientemente and últimamente? Both mean 'recent', but when would you use one over another?

Please give reference to the below examples:

¿Cómo ha estado el clima recientemente? What's has been the weather lately?

¿Ha escuchado algún buen podcast últimamente? Have you heard any good podcasts lately?

Are the words interchangeable?


Yes, they are pretty much interchangeable (most of the time) to mean the same thing (just as the word recently is a close synonym of lately, see source).


  1. adv. Poco tiempo antes. [not long ago]



  1. adv. por último.

  2. adv. Hace poco tiempo, recientemente.

In these phrases, a simple substitution is okay:

He estado recibiendo información en ese sentido ultimamente / recientemente
[ I have been receiving information in that regard lately / recently ]

Also both your examples are fine when applying that substitution:

¿Cómo ha estado el clima recientemente (/ últimamente)? What has been the weather lately?

¿Ha escuchado algún buen podcast últimamente (/ recientmente)? Have you heard any good podcasts lately?

Though there's a nuance when it comes to a singular event. For example

Choqué mi coche recientemente I crashed my car recently

In either language, referring to a single event —not a recurring one— will need recently rather than lately which would not be correct.

  • 5
    I cannot say that it is not correct that "In any phrase you could replace one word with the other". However, I would not replace "recientemente" with "últimamente" in some sentences. Mostly when refering to some events of short duration, for example: 'Choqué mi auto últimamente' sounds weird to me, but 'Recientemente choqué mi auto' is ok. Does it depend on the country? – user1420303 Dec 10 '19 at 19:52
  • 2
    True, they seem to be have the nuance to that also in Spanish, I updated the response. Many thanks! – ipp Dec 10 '19 at 20:02
  • 2
    I'd also add that recientemente sounds a bit formal. In places where one cannot use últimamente I'd just replace it with hace poco. – pablodf76 Dec 10 '19 at 20:38

I think that "últimamente" implies some comparison with the previous period, whereas "recientemente" just gives us a time reference, which is recent. Also, "últimamente" could be a shorter interval than "recientemente." Examples:

  • Últimamente no se ve muy contenta mi hermana. [The implication is that previously she seemed a perkier.]

  • Ha habido mucha lluvia recientemente. [This doesn't mean necessarily that there was significantly less rain earlier. The sentence just means that recently there was a lot.]

In your examples, I think that últimamente would likely be taken to cover a shorter term than recientemente.

Also, as Pablo said in a comment, "recientemente" can come across as rather formal. However, the adjective "reciente" has less of a formal feel to it, for example:

  • ¿Es un cambio muy reciente?

user2325442 came up with a great example (I was in a car accident/Choqué mi coche). This shows that "últimamente" only works for ongoing actions, whereas "recientemente" can in principle work for ongoing or single point in time actions.

Bottom line, for a conversational tone, the following are recommended:

  • hace poco for a single point of time action

  • últimamente for an ongoing action

  • 1
    I had never heard about 'perkier', what does it mean? It seems to be a funny word – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Dec 11 '19 at 7:04
  • 1
    @fedorqui - It's a fun one. "Perky" is a bit like "alegre." Es con el alma ligero. – aparente001 Dec 11 '19 at 7:05
  • 1
    @fedorqui there is also the useful intransitive verbal form "to perk up" meaning to cheer up. – mdewey Dec 11 '19 at 9:39
  • @mdewey oh, cool! Now I remember seeing perks as a section in job offers, with random items such as food, drinks and other things companies offer for free to employees. Nunca te acostarás sin saber una cosa más, thanks! – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Dec 11 '19 at 9:47
  • 1
    @fedorqui - It's a perk (=side benefit) of participation in a language site -- sometimes one learns something about another language. – aparente001 Dec 11 '19 at 20:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.