Spanish Present Perfect Tense – Conjugation and Use

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.

Conjugation

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

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.

Regular verbs:

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:

 JugarBeberSentir
yohe jugadohe bebidohe sentido
has jugadohas bebidohas sentido
élha jugadoha bebidoha sentido
nosotroshemos jugadohemos bebidohemos sentido
vosotroshabéis jugadohabéis bebidohabéis sentido
elloshan jugadohan bebido han sentido

Irregular verbs:

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 you need to learn:

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:

 HacerVer
yohe hechohe visto
has hechohas visto
élha hechoha visto
nosotroshemos hechohemos visto
vosotroshabéis hechohabéis visto
elloshan hechohan visto



When do we use Present Perfect?

We use Present Perfect when we talk about actions in the past, but we mention a time period that reaches the present (in which we still are).

For example, if I say “I played football today”, the action is past, but the time period “today” 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 period reaches the present.

Hemos hecho muchas cosas esta semana = We have done many things this week

The following is a list of key words (referring to time periods) with which we typically use Present Perfect. Notice that they all 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 you have examples of full sentences containing those key words:

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 the action is past and the time period mention is ALSO past? Then you will use another tense: the Preterite. Click here to learn about the Preterite Tense.

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