Time Expressions with "hacer"

The Spanish verb hacer can be used in many ways to describe the length of time an action has been occurring or how long ago something happened. It's also used to describe actions that took place in the past that were interrupted by another action. Study the following examples.
They have been running for a week.
Hace una semana que corren.
She has studied English for one year.
Hace un año que estudia Inglés.
She studied Spanish one year ago.
Hace un año que estudió español.
She had been studying Spanish for two years when she traveled to Uruguay.
Hacía dos años que estudiaba español cuando ella viajó a Uruguay.

Hacer for describing "time ago"

The Spanish verb hacer can be used to describe actions that occurred a specific amount of time ago. There are two ways to say when something happened in the past using hacer.

    hace + time + que + preterite
    or
    preterite + hace + time

Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

It was three years ago that I met my girl friend.
Hace tres años que encontré a mi novia.
She arrived at the party ten minutes ago.
Hace diez minutos que llegó a la fiesta.
I started teaching Spanish five years ago.
Empecé a enseñar español hace cinco años.
I learned how to speak Spanish six years ago.
Aprendí a hablar español hace seis años.

Hacer for describing past actions that continue into the present

Using the verb hacer, there are three ways to express that something has been happening for a certain amount of time.

    hace + time + que + present tense
    or
    present tense + hace + time
    or
    present tense + desde hace + time

Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

He has known his brother for five years.
Hace cinco años que conoce a su hermano.
She has spoken Spanish for ten years.
Ella habla español hace diez años.
I have had a headache for four hours.
Tengo dolor de cabeza desde hace cuatro horas.

Hacer for describing past actions interrupted by another past action

Using the verb hacer, there are three ways to express how long an action has been occurring when it was interrupted by another action.

    hacía + time + que + imperfect
    or
    imperfect + hacía + time
    or
    imperfect + desde hacía + time

Read and listen to the examples below, then repeat each out loud.

I had been writing the letter for an hour when she arrived.
Hacía una hora que escribía la carta cuando llegó.
I had been sleeping twenty minutes when he woke me up.
Dormía hacía viente minutos cuando me despertó.
We had been walking in the mountains for one hour when it began to snow.
Andábamos en las montañas desde hacía una hora cuando empezó a nevar.