The Spanish Present Perfect (called in Spanish «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.
We will first learn the conjugation of verbs in Present Perfect, and then study its use.
We construct the Present Perfect with 2 words:
- The first word is the verb “haber” conjugated in Present Tense: «he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han».
- The second word is the Past Participle of the main verb, and it is the same for all persons. Click here if you don’t know how to form the Past Participle.
Here are some examples of verbs fully conjugated in Present Perfect. These are verbs 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 a couple more verbs conjugated in Present Perfect. In this case, they 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 the Present Perfect to talk about past actions, under these 2 conditions:
- The action is past.
- However, the time frame we refer to (or imply) reaches the present.
For example, consider this sentence in English: “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. Thus, in Spanish we would use the Present Perfect:
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”:
Hemos hecho muchas cosas esta semana = We have done many things this week
Keywords for Present Perfect:
The following is a list of keywords which typically go well with the Present Perfect. Notice that they all refer to time frames which reach the present.
- Hoy = today
- Siempre = always
- 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
To illustrate the use of these keywords, here are example sentences containing them:
En mi vida he hecho muchas tonterías. = In my life, I’ve done many stupid things.
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.
Present Perfect Vs. Preterite Tense
In this post, we explained that we use the Present Perfect for past actions, under the condition that the time frame referred to or implied reaches the present. But what if both the action AND the time frame are in the past? In that case, we use another tense: the Preterite. Click here to learn about the Spanish Preterite Tense.