why does "a tan solo 2 minutos de empezar" mean "2 minutes before starting" but "a los 2 minutos de empezar" mean "2 minutes after starting"?.. why does the meaning change because of an added word?
I think the give away here is in the first paragraph of both of the lessons. We have a combination of words [a + [time] + de] i.e. a certain structure that means "within / after," and another structure [Tan solo + [time] + de] that means "just before" something else happens. These combinations or structures have particular meanings and are commonly used. They don't always make literal sense when translated word by word; we just learn them off. If there is a logic to them I would love to know.
What I know for sure is that they are good "day to day" spoken Spanish, and go down well with native speakers. Saludos. John
Exactly as John says, these set structures are idiomatic, we can't find a logical/literal meaning, so they need to be learned as such structures, the same way we learn other idiomatic expressions.
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