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Una vez | una vez que| de una vez

The Spanish expression una vez (once, one time) is usually combined with different prepositions to convey different meanings. 


In one of our newest videos in the series Curso de guitarra, you can hear the teacher saying:

Una vez resuelta esta progresión, ahora sí podemos cantar.

Once this progression [is] done, now we can sing.

Caption 5, Curso de guitarra - Para los que empiezan desde cero

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Notice how una vez, in this case, was placed before a participle (resuelta) used as an adjective (that's why it agrees in gender and number with the noun that it modifies: la progresión [the progression]). See the following similar examples:

Una vez rota, no puedes pegar la taza de nuevo.
Once broken, the cup can't be put back together.

Una vez muertos, los peces empezaron a flotar.
Once dead, the fish started to float.

If using the participle is still a little too complicated for you, you can work your way around it using una vez + que (once) and an indicative verb:

Una vez que la taza se rompeno puedes pegarla de nuevo.
Once the cup is broken, you can't put it back together. 

Una vez que los peces murieron, empezaron a flotar.
Once the fish were dead, they started to float.

Take a look at a similar example from our video catalog:

Una vez que la cría se hace mayor, ¿qué pasa?

Once the baby gets older, what happens?

Caption 17, Animales en familia - El hipopótamo pigmeo

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What would this look like if we use the participle construction instead? Want to give it a try?

Una vez hecha mayor la cría, ¿qué pasa?
Once the baby gets older, what happens?

But what happens if you place the preposition de (of, from) before una vez (once)? The phrase now means "at once," "right now," or "once and for all." Other similar phrases that are very common are de una buena vez and de una vez por todas, which mean the same and just add more emphasis to the expression.

Mejor me voy al cuarto feo de una vez.

I might as well go to the ugly room right now.

Caption 22, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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Termina con mi vida de una vez

Put an end to my life once and for all

Caption 44, Gonzalo Yáñez - Dispara

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A ver si me entendés de una vez por todas.

See if you understand me once and for all.

Caption 51, Yago - 2 El puma

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Just be careful! Más de una vez means "more than once:"

Te lo advertí más de una vez que yo no entro en el juego.

I warned you more than once that I don't enter the game.

Caption 45, Orishas - El Kilo

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And now, for some extra points: How do you say "once upon a time" in Spanish? You use the verb haber (to be):

Había una vez una niña a quien todos llamaban Caperucita roja.
Once upon a time there was a girl whom everybody called Little Red Riding Hood.

The End.

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