How to say yesterday in Spanish like a native speaker: The 10 expressions you’re missing

How do you say yesterday in Spanish?… Straight and simple: “Ayer”.

However, I know that if you engage in a conversation with a Spanish native speaker,  then you’ll probably face more than just “ayer”.

Wait… what? 

Can you say yesterday in different ways?…

Yes, but don’t panic, even native speakers struggle to understand others because some people may use some “odd” words.

Like when I was asking about a product at the supermarket and the person who was helping me said:

Trasantier se llevaron el último”.

Now, I’m a Spanish native speaker, and I didn’t understand this expression completely.

Of course, I understood the meaning of the word by the context of the conversation, but I didn’t know that word existed.

After that experience, I went ahead and did some research on how we say yesterday in Spanish, and in this blog post, I want to share just that.

So get your pencil, and your notebook because you are about to discover 13 different ways to say yesterday in Spanish.

10 Different ways to say ‘yesterday’ in Spanish

Before we dive any further into the meaning of this word and its different variations, you have to know that “ayer” is a time adverb.

But let’s pay a bit more attention to this word:

1- Ayer

Yes, as you’re suspecting and confirming, we use this word to talk about the day immediately before today.

Here are a couple of sentences using it: 

  • “Enrique me vio ayer en el parque y no me saludó, ¿será que le hice algo?” 
  • Translation: Enrique saw me yesterday at the park, and he didn’t say hi to me. Could I have done something to him?
  • Ayer te estaba esperando, pensé que vendrías a mi casa, ¿qué pasó? 
  • Translation: Yesterday, I was waiting for you, I thought you were coming home, what happened?
  • Ayer no fui a clase 
  • Translation: I didn’t go to class yesterday.

Pretty easy, right?

Notice that we have to use the preterite or the imperfect because we’re talking in the past tense, just like we do it when we speak English.

Now, did you know that we might also use the word ‘ayer’ as a noun in Spanish?

Like if it was kind of a person!

2- El Ayer 

When we say “el ayer”,  we’re giving an identity to the day before today.

It just means “the yesterday”, like if it was more than just a time adverb.

We don’t use this word that often in daily life,  because it sounds a bit poetic.

Here’re a couple of examples of how I’ve heard it:

  • “El ayer es historia, lo que importa es el hoy”. 
  • Translation: Yesterday is history, what matters is today.
  • “Sigues mirando hacia el ayer, como si tu ex aún pensara en ti”. 
  • Translation: You keep looking towards ‘yesterday’, as if your ex would still think about you.

When used in this ‘poetic’ manner, have in mind that it wouldn’t sound the same if you don’t put ‘el’ before ‘ayer’. 

  • Siempre estarás en ayer (NO) en el ayer (YES) de mi vida. 
  • Translation: You’ll always be in the yesterday of my life.

We can also combine “ayer”  with a time of the day just to be more specific about an event that took place yesterday:

3- Ayer en la mañana

This is in the morning yesterday, and we use it to talk about things that happened yesterday before noon.

For instance:

  • — ¿Cuándo llegaste entonces? 
  • Translation:When did you get here then?
  • Ayer en la mañana, mi vuelo se adelantó. ¿Por qué no fuiste al aeropuerto?… pensé que ibas a estar ahí. 
  • Translation: In the morning yesterday, my flight was earlier. Why didn’t you go to the airport? I thought you were going to be there
  • — Ahh pues, ayer en la mañana tuve que salir de urgencia para la oficina. 
  • Translation: Oh well, in the morning yesterday, I had to go to the office urgently.

4- Ayer en la tarde

This is yesterday in the afternoon so that we can describe thing that happened afternoon on the day before today, like this:

  • — Bueno, ¿y en la tarde?… ¿por qué no viniste a verme ayer en la tarde?
  • Translation: Well, then, how about the afternoon?… Why didn’t you come to see me yesterday in the afternoon?
  • — Pues… ya sabes, salí de la oficina y… bueno… no recuerdo ¿qué hice ayer en la tarde?… ah sí, ayer en la tarde mi mamá fue a visitarme, así que salí para la casa apenas terminé de trabajar.
  • Translation: Well… you know, I went out the office and… well… I don’t remember, what did I do yesterday in the afternoon?… oh yeah, yesterday in the afternoon my mom went to visit, so I went home as soon as I finished working.
  • — Ya veo, parece que ayer en la tarde estabas muy ocupado.
  • Translation: I see, looks like you were very busy yesterday in the afternoon.


5- Ayer en la noche

This one means yesterday at night, and Yes… there’s a more common way to say “last night” in Spanish, and we’ll cover that on # 6.

Just remember that we have different ways to say the same thing, and it’s necessary that you know what native speakers might throw at you in conversations.

So, here’s how some people might use ‘ayer en la noche’:

  • —¿Y cuál es tu excusa para ayer en la noche? ¿Por qué no viniste? 
  • Translation: And what’s your excuse for last night? Why didn’t you come?
  • —No son excusas, mamá se fue en la tarde y en la noche me sentí un poco enfermo.
  • Translation: The’re no excuses, mom left in the afternoon and at night I felt a bit sick.
  • —¿Un poco enfermo? A puesto a que ayer en la noche saliste con tus amigos…
  • Translation: A bit sick? I bet that you went out with your friends last night…

6- Anoche 

This one is more common to hear in daily life, and even in music.

You know like the song… 

“Porque la noche de anoche fue, algo que yo no puedo explicar” 

You don’t know it? 

It’s by a famous reggaeton singer called Bad Bunny and the germans Milky Chance made a cover of it, I thought you knew!


This word refers to the night immediately before to today.

It’s pretty straightforward so here are a couple of examples using anoche:

  • Anoche soñé contigo, creo que fue mi peor pesadilla.
  • Translation: Last night I dreamt about you, I think it was the worst nightmare.
  • ¿A dónde fusite anoche? Te estuve llamando y no contestaste.
  • Translation: Where did you go last night? I called you and you didn’t answer.
  • Me fui a dormir temprano anoche
  • Translation: I went to bed early last night.

Now, what about the night before last night?… How would you say that in Spanish?… And what about the day before that?

Well here is where things get a bit messy. 

Check this out:

7- Antenoche

This is the night before last night. 

For English speakers, this might be a little hard to grasp because, you guys would only say two nights ago.

And if you say “dos noches atrás” , Which would be the equivalent of that, then people will understand what you say.

However be ready for people saying “antenoche”, just like this:

  • “Antenoche hubo un accidente en la autopista, dos carros chocaron, pero no hubo muertos”.
  • Translation: Two nights ago there was an accident on the freeway, two cars crashed, but nobody died.
  • “Mamá estuvo muy enferma hasta antenoche, anoche empezó a mejorar y ahora está mucho mejor.” 
  • Translation: Mom was pretty sick until two nights ago, last night she felt better and now she’s much better.

Also, be aware that some people might say this word slightly differently than how I am presenting to you.

I’ve heard people saying it: Anteanoche. 

Notice that there’s an extra “a” in the middle of the word.

8- Trasantenoche or trasanteanoche

Yep, you guessed it, “trasantenoche”  means three nights ago.

You could avoid using this crazy word because it’s not very common in daily speaking. 

You may replace it with: 

  • “Hace tres días, en la noche”
  • “Tres noches atrás”
  • Or simply: “hace unos días”

Yet, some people are still going to use it, and especially old Spanish native speakers.

Here’s an example:

  • Trasantenoche vino la policía y registró toda la casa, no sé que buscaban” 
  • Translation: Three nights ago cops came and registered all the house, I don’t know what they were looking for.
  • — “Honestamente, no te recuerdo, ¿cuándo dices que nos conocimos?
  • Translation: Honestly, I don’t remember you,  where did we meet?
  • —”Trasantenoche, en el supermercado, que usted estaba con su esposa” 
  • Three nights ago, at the supermarket, you were there with your wife. 

Now, let’s stop talking about “last night”, and let us get back to yesterday in Spanish because… 

Yes, just as with “antenoche” or “trasantenoche”, we have specific expressions to talk about certain days in the past.

9- Antier

This refers to 2 days ago.

People might use to talk about the day before yesterday very globally.

In other words this adverb isn’t specific on what time of the day it’s talking about.

So people may refer to the morning, the afternoon, or the night.

For example:

  • —“Tu papá estuvo por aquí. Pagó todo lo que me debías.” 
  • Translation: Your father was here last night. He paid everything you owed me.
  • — ¿En serio? ¿Cuándo fue eso?
  • Translation: Really? When was that?
  • — Antier, como a las 7 de la noche 
  • Translation: The day before yesterday, like at 7 p.m.

10- Trasantier

Just like “trasantenoche”, this word means 3 days ago.

It’s the final “evolution“ of the word ‘ayer’ that we’ll cover today and it works just as antier.

Oh, and I’ve heard some people saying it slightly differently to how I just wrote it in subheading numer 10.

They may say: Trasanteayer

Here’s an example using this adverb: 

  • Trasantier fui a la tienda de mascotas, pero no tenían comida para perro. 
  • Translation: I went to the pet store three days ago, but they didn’t have dog food.



 And that’s it!

These expressions are all useful for you to say yesterday in Spanish.

Or maybe the day before yesterday, or the day before before yesterday.

I know this must be a little crazy if these words don’t have a translation in your mother language, so stick to “ayer” or “hace x días” if you feel a little confused.

Remember that “trasantier” or “trasantenoche” are not very common to hear, so don’t worry too much about that.

In my case for example, I stick to counting days, you know…

  • Hace tres días. 
  • Hace tres noches.

For now, just keep focused on increasing your vocabulary.

The more you do it, the more Spanish you’ll understand and more you’ll be able to use in the future. 

Oh, and if you’re looking for a great resource to set a solid foundation in Spanish, then check out this resource that I’ve found online called: Spanish Uncovered.

It is just an amazing course for anyone in the beginning stages of learning this language, it’ll immerse you to the language with the power of stories. 

Check it out and let me know what you think about it.

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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