Spanish Present Perfect – Conjugation and Use of this Tense

Spanish Present Perfect, Title of the Grammar Lesson

The Spanish Present Perfect (“Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto”) is a verb tense in Spanish. 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 with the formula “haber” + Past Participle, going through the following points:

1. Conjugation of verbs in Present Perfect: “haber” + Past Participle

The formula to construct the Present Perfect consists of 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 is the same for all persons.

Remember… The Past Participle of a verb 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.

Examples of verbs conjugated in Present Perfect

With our formula in mind, here are some examples of verbs fully conjugated in Present Perfect. These particular verbs have a Regular Past Participle:

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

And here are a couple more verbs conjugated in Present Perfect. In this case, they have an Irregular Past Participle:

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

2. Use of The Present Perfect

We use the Present Perfect to talk about actions, under 2 conditions:

  1. The action is in the past.
  2. However, the time frame we refer to (or imply) reaches the present. 

For example, consider the following sentence in English: “I played football today”. The action (“I played football”) 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 sentence 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.

It is also OK to use the Present Perfect without mentioning any time frame, especially when the action is in the recent past:

¿Qué habéis hecho?
What have you guys done?

He desayunado tostadas.
I’ve had toasts for breakfast.

¿Has comprado el regalo?
Have you bought the present?

Keywords to use with the Present Perfect:

The following is a list of keywords which typically go well in sentences with the Present Perfect. Notice that they all refer to time frames which reach the present.

  • Hoy = today
  • 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
  • Siempre = always
  • Nunca = never

Sentences in Present Perfect containing Keywords

To illustrate the use of the keywords above, here are example sentences containing some of them:

En mi vida he hecho muchas tonterías.
In my life, I’ve done many stupid things.

Has empezado un curso de español este mes.
You have 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.

Hemos cambiado mucho desde entonces.
We have changed a lot since then.

Hoy han venido mis abuelos.
Today my grandparents have come.

Present Perfect Vs. Preterite Tense

As already explained, we use the Present Perfect for actions, under the condition that the action is past but the expressed or implied time frame 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.

3. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz and test your knowledge about Spanish Present Perfect!

4. Practice: An Exercise

These two kids, Carmen and Gonzalo, have done some things 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