In Nicaragua, addresses are usually given as directions from a landmark, for example:

From the stadium, go 5 blocks south, then 3 blocks east

Sometimes the landmark is a place that used to be there, and they say "de donde fue", for example:

De donde fue el estadio, 3 cuadras al sur, 2 al oeste

There's even an official abbreviation for that, DDF. It always confused me though why it's "de donde fue". That seems like the wrong verb (shouldn't estar be used for location?) and the wrong tense (shouldn't the imperfect be used for where something "used to be"?). Why is it "de donde fue" instead of "de donde estaba"?

Edit: And just to clarify, the phrase is used to refer to something that no longer exists. I believe a lot of the standard landmarks used in directions were destroyed in a major earthquake, but are still used as points of reference.

  • Since "fue" is the past tense of both "ser" and "ir" is there any possibility it might actually mean "where the stadium went" rather than "where the stadium was"? Perhaps since so many landmarks "went away" in the '72 earthquake? – hippietrail Nov 28 '11 at 18:58

To be honest I never thought about it. It has been so natural to be saying "de donde fue"...our population has been saying that for decades. We had a big major earthquake in 1972 that destroy most of our city. So people started to have those type of references. To complicate more the things we do not have street names which can be very confused. We use reference points like known buildings..or even famous building that might not even being there anymore. It is ok for Nicaraguans. But for tourist might be a pain. Here it is a link that explain this better than me in case you are curious.

Nicaragua Address system

  • +1 Very interesting! And it's almost as interesting to know that "it's ok for nicaraguans" :-) – leonbloy May 10 '12 at 3:18
  • :) indeed It is OK for us. However for Nicaraguans when they travel to another countries it takes a while for us to get use to have street names..it was indeed a lot fun for me. – cayerdis May 10 '12 at 3:42
  • Interesting. Would you normally say "donde estaba" in other contexts or is "where something was" always "donde fue" instead of "donde estaba"? – jrdioko May 10 '12 at 18:59

I'm not from Nicaragua, but "De donde fue" sounds like something unique to Nicaragua. Here in Chile, we say "De aquí, 3 cuadras hacia ..." and "Desde el estadio, 3 cuadras hacia..."


If you're refering to something that was there but does not longer exists, that's more rare, but you could expres it as Donde estaba el estadio, 3 cuadras hacia ...

That's if the building itself It's not there. If it has only changed name or bussiness, you could prepend Ex to the past reference: Imagine something that was the "Cafetería El Caballo" and was very well known, but now It's "Librería la vaca" then you could say Desde la Ex Cafetería, 3 cuadras hacia ... This only works when the past reference is VERY well known.

  • a somenting uniqe => something unique – dusan Nov 24 '11 at 16:40
  • a somenting => something – dusan Nov 24 '11 at 19:20
  • @DavidLay: But your examples only talk about reference to extant things, how would you say it with reference to something that no longer exists? Ser or estar? Preterite or imperfect? – hippietrail Nov 27 '11 at 10:33
  • Desde Donde estaba el estadio hacia..._ (updated response) – David Lay Nov 28 '11 at 18:14

I would say is a slang from Nicaragua, I would describe that usage as a solecism , it happen with every language and in every country, as a matter of fact the usage of "de donde estaba" doesn't seem quite correct either UNLESS the place you are referring is not there anymore.

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