De vs Desde: All You Need to Know to Never Confuse Them Again

De vs Desde in English to say from in Spanish

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Knowing when to use de vs desde is often quite tricky, even for native speakers. Both de and desde in English can be translated as from, though there are also several other translations depending on the context. Since we know you want to strengthen your grammar, we decided to bring you this post so you can finally learn to differentiate between the two and learn how to use from in Spanish.

First of all, we need to acknowledge that both de and desde have quite a few uses. Fortunately, most of these are fairly straightforward, so once we cover each of them you’ll be clear on where it’s best to choose desde vs de for those uses. We’ll start off our post with a section showing these straightforward uses of de, followed by a section on the straightforward uses of desde.

The tricky section comes last, where we examine the contexts where it’s possible to use either de or desde. In these situations, both of them indeed generally mean from in Spanish, so it’s the section where we’ll go into the important nuances to consider when choosing between the two. In particular, we’ll look at when to use the two forms of from … to phrases using either de … a or desde … hasta.

Are you ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

De vs Desde: The Basics

Broadly speaking, both de and desde are prepositions that are used to indicate the point of origin of an action or event.

With desde, this broad concept of indicating the origin equates somewhat closely with some English uses of the word from, namely when we’re talking about distances or time periods: from one to another.

With de, we can apply this broad concept of origin from a lot of directions, so it’s used in contexts like expressing possession, describing something’s provenance, noting what something is composed of, or even describing points in time. The English translations in several of these uses of de can vary between of, from, made from, in, or even other words, since these same concepts aren’t necessarily expressed the same way in English. With respect to distances and time periods though, de is indeed used to indicate the origin point and is usually translated as from.

For this reason, English speakers (as well as many native speakers!) often confuse de and desde in a lot of contexts. But don’t worry, in the next sections we’ll cover all the uses of de and desde in Spanish, with the final section looking specifically at the contexts where they’re very similar so you can learn to properly use from in Spanish without any problem.


In this section we’ll look at the main uses of de in Spanish that are fairly distinct from any comparable uses of desde. These are the uses where de in English doesn’t translate as from. In these contexts, you should be confident in always choosing de over desde. Here we go!



In this context, de in Spanish is used to express possession. The English equivalent is when you translate de directly as of, though other translations generally sound better. In most of the following examples, we include both versions of the English translations:

  • Este es el vestido de María. – This is the dress of Maria. – This is Maria’s dress.
  • El gato de Luisa tiene el pelo suave. – The cat of Luisa has soft fur. – Luisa’s cat has soft fur.
  • La casa de ella tiene paredes blancas. – Her house has white walls.
  • La madre de Pedro es argentina. – The mother of Pedro is Argentinian. – Pedro’s mother is Argentinian.
  • El color de este cinturón me gusta – I like the color of this belt.



Used in a similar manner to the possessive form we saw in the previous section, we can also use de in Spanish to indicate something’s place of origin. This is one of the contexts in which de means from in Spanish, since we use it to say that something is from somewhere. Let’s see some examples:

  • Soy de Venezuela, pero vivo en Ecuador. – I’m from Venezuela, but I live in Ecuador.
  • El mejor café es de Colombia. – The best coffee is from Colombia.
  • Ellos vienen de allá. – They come from there.
  • La paella es de España. – Paella is from Spain.
  • Los padres de Paula vienen de Bolivia. – Paula’s parents come from Bolivia.

Characteristics and material

Características y material

De is used to indicate the material something is made of, as well as some characteristics and even what it contains. In these cases, a direct translation for de in English can usually be of. Nonetheless, it’s more important to translate the concept than the specific word, so sometimes the translation can be expanded to phrases like made of or composed of, while sometimes the English versions use entirely different words to convey the concept of the nouns’ characteristics. Let’s see some examples:

  • Siempre tomo dos tazas de té al día. – I always drink two cups of tea per day.
  • Es recomendable usar ropa de algodón. – It is advisable to wear clothes made of cotton.
  • Esta tela es de buena calidad. – This fabric is of great quality.
  • Hace mucho calor; necesito un vaso de agua. – It’s very hot; I need a glass of water.
  • Las personas de bien obedecen las reglas. – Good people obey the rules.
  • Quiero un nuevo traje de baño. – I want a new swimsuit.

Time expressions

Expresiones de tiempo

De is our Spanish word of choice to refer to general times or periods. This use of de is to provide the setting in which the actions of our sentence take place.

The English translations for this use of de in Spanish need to focus on introducing the time period rather than relying on a specific word. In general, you can often use the English words at or as to introduce the time period, though it really depends on the phrase. Let’s see a few examples here.

  • Es difícil estudiar de noche. – It’s hard to study at night.
  • De niño, me gustaban las películas de superhéroes. – As a kid, I liked superhero movies.
  • No me gusta trabajar de mañana. – I don’t like to work in the mornings.
  • De adulto, aprendí a planchar la ropa. – As an adult, I learned to iron clothes.
  • ¡En esta ciudad llueve de noche y de día! – In this city it rains night and day! – In this city it rains [at] night and [during the] day!


As a general rule, desde is used with a span of time or space to introduce its origin. With a span of time desde marks the starting point, while with a span of distance desde marks one of the endpoints. In both the temporal and spatial cases, there’s an implied emphasis on the length of the span.

The equivalents of desde in English can vary between since, as of, or from when we use it to introduce a span of time, while it usually always translates as from when we’re referring to spans of distance. In the following sections we’ll look at each of these two uses of desde that can be interpreted as from in Spanish.

Starting point

Punto de inicio

In a temporal context, desde indicates the starting point of an action or event. This can be in the past or the future, since what’s important here is the span of time that follows the starting point. Depending on how the sentence is translated, desde in English can take several forms: the most common are since, as of, and from. Let’s see some examples:

  • Desde hoy empiezo la dieta  – As of today I’m starting the diet.
  • Estoy corriendo desde las 4 p.m. – I’ve been running since 4 p.m.
  • No te veía desde que eras niño. – I haven’t seen you since you were a kid.
  • He vivido aquí desde 1999. – I have lived here since 1999.
  • Dicen que desde mañana el servicio dejará de ser gratuito. – They say that, starting from tomorrow, the service will no longer be free of charge.



When using desde in Spanish for referring to spatial contexts, we’re highlighting one position with respect to another. Similarly to the temporal use, desde indicates one end of the span of distance we’re introducing. In this use, desde in English is almost always translated as from. Let’s see this form of from in Spanish through a few examples:

  • Desde mi casa puedo ver el estadio. –  From my house I can see the stadium.
  • Desde tu perspectiva, está mal tener el cabello largo. – From your perspective, it’s wrong to have long hair.
  • Desde el parque se escucharon los gritos de Roberto. – From the park you could hear Roberto’s screams.
  • Desde aquí se pueden ver las estrellas. – From here you can see the stars.
  • Me gusta el lago que se ve desde el apartamento de Ana. – I like the lake that you can see from Ana’s apartment.

De … a vs Desde … hasta

So far in this post, we’ve examined the individual uses for de and desde in Spanish, each of which is unique enough to avoid too much confusion when considering de vs desde. Hopefully you’ve managed to keep each use clear so far, even if the English translation in a couple of the contexts is from.

In the following sections we’ll tackle the points where making the right choice between de vs desde becomes more challenging, since grammatically, either one can often be considered correct. In these situations, the nuances between our choice of de and desde comes down to what we’re emphasizing. This is especially important when we utilize de … a vs desde … hasta to indicate variations on from … to.

Now let’s take a look at the different contexts where we’ll really need to choose between desde vs de depending on the nuances of what we’re emphasizing.



We’ll start off by looking at from … to phrases about durations of time. Here, our choice is whether to place the emphasis on the starting and ending points, or on the duration itself.

We choose de … a when our emphasis is on the starting and ending points of the time span, rather than on the duration.

  • Por favor, llegue a la estación de autobuses a las 16:00. El viaje a Buenos Aires será de 16:30 a 06:05. El autobús tiene aire acondicionado y tiene un baño. – Please arrive at the bus station by 16:00. The journey to Buenos Aires will be from 16:30 to 06:05. The bus is air-conditioned and has a toilet.

In contrast, we choose desde … hasta when our emphasis is on the duration.

  • Hola, Alejandro, voy a la estación de autobuses ahora. ¡El viaje es desde las 4:30 p. m. hasta las 6:05 a. m.! Por favor, no programes nada importante para mi primer día en Buenos Aires. – Hi, Alejandro, I’m going to the bus station now. The journey is from 4:30pm to 6:05am! Please don’t schedule anything important for my first day in Buenos Aires.

Movement across distances

Movimiento a través de distancias

Similarly to the nuances we saw in the previous section on referring to spans of time, the same nuances apply when we talk about moving across distances from a given starting point. The English equivalent is generally always from, while in Spanish we choose between de and desde depending on what we’re emphasizing. We can use them on their own to say from in Spanish, or in from … to phrases with their respective to words. Let’s look at this use in some more detail.

When our emphasis is simply on stating the starting points, we choose de. In this case, the distance isn’t particularly important: from where is what we’re emphasizing.

  • Vengo de la tienda con una almohada nueva y sábanas nuevas. – I’m coming from the store with a new pillow and new sheets.

Likewise, we can use de … a to simply highlight the starting and ending points of the movement:

  • Por la mañana, puedes tomar un taxi para ir de la estación a mi casa. – In the morning, you can take a taxi to go from the station to my house.

On the other hand, when the emphasis is on the distance in addition to the endpoints, our best choice is to use desde.

  • Julia por fin me visita desde Mendoza! – Julia is finally visiting me from Mendoza!
  • Estará muy cansada después de su viaje desde Mendoza hasta Buenos Aires. – She will be very tired after her journey from Mendoza to Buenos Aires.

Time ranges

Intervalo de tiempo

When we want to talk about a range of time using de and desde, our choice of how we say from … to in Spanish again depends on whether the emphasis is on the endpoints or on the time interval itself. However, there’s an additional nuance when we refer to time ranges.

When we use de … a to identify the starting and ending points of a range of time, we’re implying a lot of flexibility within that period. In other words, we use this version of from … to when we want to provide some margin within that time frame.

  • ¿Estás libre del 10 al 20 mientras Julia está de visita? Deberíamos tomar unas copas juntos. – Are you free from the 10th to the 20th when Julia is visiting? We should have some drinks together.

In contrast, we use desde … hasta when we want to put the focus on the entire time range.

  • ¡Estoy tan emocionada de que ella esté de visita desde el 10 hasta el 20! – I’m so excited that she’s visiting from the 10th to the 20th!


Well, in this post we set out to cover all the similarities and differences between de vs desde, and it sure seems we covered a lot!

We started off looking at several uses of de which aren’t so easy to confuse with desde. We saw how we can use de to express possession, to talk about something’s origin, and to state what something is made of, with English translations like of, from, made from, or made of.

We also saw how we can use de to note a particular time, with English translations that include as, in, or at.

Then we looked specifically at desde, seeing how it’s used to note the starting point of a span of time or distance. In these contexts, desde in English is almost always translated as from. We also learned how to make from … to expressions with desde … hasta. In these contexts where we choose hasta over de, the main emphasis of our statements is on the distance or duration, as opposed to on the starting or ending points.

With de, the equivalent from … to expressions are created with de … a. In these contexts, on the other hand, there is no implied emphasis on what’s happening between these starting and ending points: our focus is simply on those points. Whether using de or desde in these contexts though, both are used as from in Spanish.

That’s all for now. We hope you found this post useful, and that it clarified any confusion you may have had about these versions of from in Spanish. See you next time!


Do you think you’ve gotten the hang of the various uses of de and desde in Spanish that we covered here? Why don’t you try putting them into practice in the following sentences, based on the contexts of each one!

1. _____ el barco se pueden ver los peces.

2. Vengo _____ banco. Está muy cerca.

3. ¡No puedo creer que pasáramos tanto tiempo en la fila! _____ las 2 p. m. _____ las 7 p. m. Estoy agotado.

4. Soy ecuatoriano, por lo tanto soy _____ Ecuador.

5. No hay mejor chocolate que el _____ Suiza.

6. María no sabe a qué hora llegará al centro comercial. Dice que probablemente llegue _____ las diez _____ las once de la mañana.

8. La tienda está abierta _____ 9 a.m _____ 5 p.m.

9. ¿Cómo estás, María? No te veía _____ que tenías 5 años.

10. _____ mi perspectiva, todos los políticos deben hacer algo pronto.

11. Tomamos un vuelo _____ Madrid _____ Barcelona.


1. Desde el barco se pueden ver los peces. –  From the boat you can see the fish.

2. Vengo del banco. Está muy cerca. – I come from the bank. It’s very near.

3. ¡No puedo creer que pasáramos tanto tiempo en la fila! Desde las 2 p.m. hasta las 7 p.m. Estoy agotado. – I can’t believe we spent so much time in line! From 2 pm to 7 pm. I am exhausted.

4. Soy ecuatoriano, por lo tanto soy de Ecuador. – I’m Ecuadorian, therefore I’m from Ecuador.

5. No hay mejor chocolate que el de Suiza. – There is no better chocolate than that from Switzerland.

6. María no sabe a qué hora llegará al centro comercial. Dice que probablemente llegue de las diez a las once de la mañana. – Maria doesn’t know what time she will arrive at the mall. She says she will probably arrive between ten and eleven in the morning.

8. La tienda está abierta de 9 a.m a 5 p.m. – The store is open from 9am to 5pm.

9. ¿Cómo estás, María? No te veía desde que tenías 5 años. – How are you, Maria? I haven’t seen you since you were 5 years old.

10. Desde mi perspectiva, todos los políticos deben hacer algo pronto. – From my perspective, all politicians must do something soon.

11. Tomamos un vuelo de/desde Madrid a/hasta Barcelona. – We take a flight from Madrid to Barcelona.


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