A tan solo + [length of time] + de for just [some time] before

In Spanish, if we want to express that something happens at a specific moment just before something else happens, we can use this time structure:

A tan solo + [length of time] de + [noun/infinitive]

Here are some examples:

A tan solo 2 minutos de empezar la película me llamó mi madre para charlar.Just a couple of minutes before the film started my mum called for a chat.

A tan solo una hora de salir el avión nos quedamos atascados en la autopista.Just an hour before the plane was taking off we got stuck in traffic on the motorway.

A tan solo dos días del exámen mi profesora dijo que teníamos que estudiar también los temas del primer trimestre.Just two days before the exam my teacher said that we also had to study the topics from the first term.

Notice that after the preposition de you will generally find either an infinitive or a noun, as shown in the examples above. Remember that if it is a singular masculine noun, e.g.examen, you must use the contraction "del".

However, de could also be followed by a subordinate clause using the subjunctive.

A tan solo + [length of time] de + [subordinate clause]

For example:

A tan solo 24 horas de que se emitiera el programa, la BBC canceló su emisión.Just 24 hours before the program was scheduled, the BBC cancelled its broadcast.

Estoy a tan solo unos días de que mi sueño se cumpla.I am just a few days away from fulfilling my dream.

Bear in mind that this structure admits some variations; for example sometimes "tan" or even "tan solo" are sometimes omitted from the time phrase:

Estamos a unos segundos de las campanadas de fin de año.We are just a few seconds away from the bells ringing out the end of the year.

Me avisaste a solo 5 minutos de arrancar el coche para ir a tu casa.You warned me just 5 minutes before starting the car to go to your house.

See also A + [time] + de + infinitive for within + [time] of + gerund

 

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Examples and resources

A tan solo dos días del exámen mi profesora dijo que teníamos que estudiar también los temas del primer trimestre.Just two days before the exam my teacher said that we also had to study the topics from the first term.
Estoy a tan solo unos días de que mi sueño se cumpla.I am just a few days away from fulfilling my dream.
A tan solo una hora de salir el avión nos quedamos atascados en la autopista.Just an hour before the plane was taking off we got stuck in traffic on the motorway.
A tan solo 2 minutos de empezar la película me llamó mi madre para charlar.Just a couple of minutes before the film started my mum called for a chat.
Estamos a unos segundos de las campanadas de fin de año.We are just a few seconds away from the bells ringing out the end of the year.
A tan solo 24 horas de que se emitiera el programa, la BBC canceló su emisión.Just 24 hours before the program was scheduled, the BBC cancelled its broadcast.
Me avisaste a solo 5 minutos de arrancar el coche para ir a tu casa.You warned me just 5 minutes before starting the car to go to your house.
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