The Spanish Present Perfect (“Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto”) is one of the several Past Tenses that exist in the Spanish language. Although it’s called “Present Perfect”, it is actually used to talk about past actions.
In this post we will learn how to use the Present Perfect, going through the following points:
Table of Contents
1. Conjugation of verbs in Spanish Present Perfect
We construct the Present Perfect always with 2 words:
- The first word is the verb “haber” conjugated in Present Tense for the specific person: “he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han”.
- The second word is the Past Participle of the main verb. It’s the same for all persons.
The Past Participle is usually formed with the ending “-ADO” for verbs whose infinitive ends in “-AR”, and “-IDO” for verbs ending in “-ER, -IR”). But there are also some Irregular Past Participles. Click here to learn more about the Past Participle and its Irregularities.
Consequently, the resulting Formula for the Present Perfect is:
|yo||he||... + Past Participle of the main verb|
Here are some examples of verbs fully conjugated in Present Perfect. These particular verbs 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|
2. Use of The Present Perfect
We use the Present Perfect to talk about past actions, under 2 conditions:
- The action is past.
- However, the time frame we refer to (or imply) reaches the present.
For example, consider the following sentence in English: “I played football today”. Here 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, it is a good case to 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 some of 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
As already explained, 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 belong to the past? In that case, we use another tense: the Preterite. Click here to learn about the Spanish Preterite Tense.
3. Practice: A Quiz
Take this short Quiz and test your knowledge!:
4. Practice: An Exercise
What have these children done today? Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using the Present Perfect, and then check the solutions at the end of this post.
¿Qué ____ _______ 1.(hacer) hoy Carmen y Gonzalo?
Carmen ____ _______ 2.(hacer) las tareas. También ____ _______ 3.(comprar) una blusa nueva.
Gonzalo ____ _______ 4.(dormir) la siesta. Luego ____ _______ 5.(celebrar) su cumpleaños.
Carmen y Gonzalo ____ _______ 6.(tomar) helados. Además, los dos ____ _______ 7.(jugar) con sus amigos.
Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = han hecho, 2 = ha hecho, 3 = ha comprado, 4 = ha dormido, 5 = ha celebrado, 6 = han tomado, 7 = han jugado