The Spanish Present Perfect Tense (“Pretérito perfecto compuesto”) is one of the several Past Tenses that exist in the Spanish language. Yes: 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 constructed with two words.
- The first word is the verb “haber” conjugated in Present Tense for the right person (“he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han”)
- The second word is the Past Participle of the verb you want to conjugate. This word is the same for all persons. Because the Past Participle is used in more than one verb tense, we have written separate lesson about how to form the Past Participle. Click here to learn how to form the Past Participle.
Here are some verbs conjugated in Present Perfect tense, which have a Regular Past Participle:
|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|
And here are some verbs conjugated in Present Perfect tense, which have an Irregular Past Participle:
|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|
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.