Differences Between 'De' and 'Desde'

'Desde' Tends To Indicate Motion From

Parachuting
Vamos a saltar desde el cielo. (We're going to jump from the sky.). U.S. Navy photo by James Woods.

Because they can both mean "from," the Spanish prepositions desde and de are easily confused. And the fact that they sometimes are interchangeable — for example, both de aquí al centro and desde aquí al centro can be used for "from here to downtown." — doesn't help matters.

When to Use Desde

However, as a general rule, it can be said that desde more strongly indicates motion from a location. To give two examples, desde commonly would be used in sentences such as "Echó el libro desde el coche" (he threw the book from the car) and "Corrió desde la playa" (he ran from the beach).

It can similarly be used where the emphasis is on the original location rather than the destination.

Desde also is used with other prepositions: desde arriba (from above), desde dentro (from inside), desde abajo (from underneath). Note that these phrases tend to indicate motion from the specified area. It is also common with time phrases.

When to Use De

There are numerous cases where de, not desde, must be used to translate "from." Many of those are instances where in translation "of" can be substituted for "from," even if awkwardly. Examples: Soy de los Estados Unidos. (I'm from the United States. I'm of the United States.) Sacó el dinero de la bolsa. (She took the money from the purse. She took the money of the purse.) Sometimes the preposition por can be used to mean "from": Está debilitado por hambre. (He is weak from hunger.)

Sample Sentences Using De and Desde To Mean 'From'

You can see more about how these prepositions are used in this sentences:

  • Desde aquí se ve todos los sitios turísticos. (From here all the tourist sites are seen. Here, the emphasis is on the place to be in order to see the sites.)
  • Desde siempre he sabido que la música era algo muy importante. Since forever I have known that music is something very important. Desde siempre is a fairly common time phrase.)
  • Esculpió la estatua de piedra muy cara. (She sculpted the statue from very expensive stone. "From" in the translation could substitute for "of.")
  • Desde hace un año hasta dos meses, mi amiga estaba a cargo de la programación de la red. (From a year ago until two months ago, my friend was in charge of network programming. This is another example of desde in a time expression.)
  • ¡Encuentra excelentes ofertas de vuelos desde Nueva York a Ciudad de México y ahorra con el mejor precio! (Find excellent sales of flights from New York to Mexico City and save with the best price! The flight involves motion from New York City.)
  • El actor famoso dijo que sufrió de depresion y adicciones. (The famous actor said he suffered from depression and addictions. De is used for "from" when the preposition is used to state the cause of something.)
  • Mi novio es de un familia rica. (My boyfriend is from a rich family. "From" here could be substituted with "of.")
  • El presidente vivió de 1917 a 1962. (The president lived from 1917 to 1962. De is used with the time element.)
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Differences Between 'De' and 'Desde'." ThoughtCo, Sep. 20, 2017, thoughtco.com/differences-between-de-and-desde-3079315. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, September 20). Differences Between 'De' and 'Desde'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/differences-between-de-and-desde-3079315 Erichsen, Gerald. "Differences Between 'De' and 'Desde'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/differences-between-de-and-desde-3079315 (accessed January 23, 2018).