The Spanish Present Perfect Tense (“Pretérito perfecto compuesto”) is one of the several Past Tenses that exist in the Spanish language, and it’s pretty easy to learn! Don’t let its name confuse you: although it’s called “Present Perfect”, it is a tense to talk about past actions.
In this post we will study first, its conjugation, and then, a brief explanation on when we should use it.
The conjugation of a verb in Present Perfect is built with two words.
- The first word you have to say is the verb “haber” conjugated for the right person (he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han)
- The second word is the Participle of the verb you want to conjugate.
Let’s study how we build that second word we need: the participle.
The participle is the same for every person, but you have to learn how to build it. It’s super easy and there are only a few important Irregulars.
For the regular verbs, you build the past participle using this system:
- Verbs ending in “-ar” —> –ado
- Verbs ending in “-er, -ir” —> –ido
For example, the verbs “Jugar”, “Beber”, and “Sentir” are regular in Present Perfect, so their participles are “jugado“, “bebido” and “sentido“. Here is their full conjugation in Present Perfect:
|yo||he jugado||he bebido||he sentido|
|tú||has jugado||has bebido||has sentido|
|él||ha jugado||ha bebido||ha sentido|
|nosotros||hemos jugado||hemos bebido||hemos sentido|
|vosotros||habéis jugado||habéis bebido||habéis sentido|
|ellos||han jugado||han bebido||han sentido|
Some verbs are irregular and don’t follow this “-ado, -ido” rule. They build their participle differently.
Here’s a list of the most important Irregular Participles:
|hacer → hecho|
|decir → dicho|
|ver → visto|
|escribir → escrito|
|romper → roto|
|poner → puesto|
|volver → vuelto|
|resolver → resuelto|
|satisfacer → satisfecho|
|descubrir → descubierto|
|morir → muerto|
For example, these are the full conjugations of “Hacer” (with its irregular participle “hecho“) and “Ver” (irregular participle “visto“) in Present Perfect:
|yo||he hecho||he visto|
|tú||has hecho||has visto|
|él||ha hecho||ha visto|
|nosotros||hemos hecho||hemos visto|
|vosotros||habéis hecho||habéis visto|
|ellos||han hecho||han visto|
When do we use Present Perfect?
We use Present Perfect when we talk about actions in the past, but referring to (or implying) a time frame that reaches the present (in which we still are).
For example, if I say “I played football today”, the action is past, but the word “today” refers to a time frame that reaches the present: we are still in that time period.
Hoy he jugado al fútbol = I played football today.
Another example: “ We have done many things this week”. Again, the actions are past, but we are still in “this week”. The actions are past but the time frame reaches the present.
Hemos hecho muchas cosas esta semana = We have done many things this week
The following is a list of keywords with which we typically use Present Perfect. Notice that they all refer to time frames which reach the present.
Keywords for Present Perfect:
- Hoy = today
- Siempre = always
- Nunca = never
- Esta semana = this week
- Este mes = this month
- Este año = this year
- Últimamente = lately
- Hasta ahora = until now
- Desde entonces = since then
- En mi vida = in my life
And here are examples of full sentences containing those keywords:
En mi vida he hecho muchas tonterías = I’ve done many dumb things in my life
He empezado un curso de español este mes = I’ve started a Spanish course this month
Siempre he pensado que los españoles son un poco ruidosos = I’ve always thought spaniards are a bit loud.
But what if both the action AND the time frame are in the past? Then you will use another tense: the Preterite. Click here to learn about the Preterite Tense.