Spanish Present Perfect – Learn and Practice this Tense!

Spanish Present Perfect, Learn and Practice this Tense

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Present Perfect, (“Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto” or “Antepresente del Indicativo”), where we will practice this tense after learning how to use it.

We use the Present Perfect to talk about past actions, usually actions in the recent past.

Conjugating verbs in Present Perfect is easy, with the formula “haber” + Past Participle.

In this lesson we will learn how to conjugate and use verbs in Present Perfect, and read many example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Conjugation of verbs in Present Perfect

The formula to form the Present Perfect consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is the auxiliary verb “haber” conjugated in Present Tense: “he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han”.
  • The second word is the Past Participle of the verb expressing the action. The Past Participle is the same for all persons.

Remember…

The Past Participle of regular verbs in -ar ends in -ado.
The Past Participle of regular verbs in -er and -ir ends in -ido.

Some verbs have an irregular Past Participle. The most frequent irregulars are:

hacer → hecho
decir → dicho
ver → visto
escribir → escrito
romper → roto
poner → puesto
volver → vuelto
resolver → resuelto
satisfacer → satisfecho
descubrir → descubierto
morir → muerto

Click here to learn more about the Past Participle.


With our formula in mind, here is a table with three verbs fully conjugated in Present Perfect. These particular verbs have a Regular Past Participle:

 jugarbebersentir
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 are verbs with an Irregular Past Participle:

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

Use of the Present Perfect

We use the Present Perfect to talk about past actions.

But the problem is… there are several tenses in Spanish to talk about past actions!

So when in particular should we use the Present Perfect?

We use it only if one of these things is true:

  1. If the sentence mentions a time frame that reaches the present.
  2. If the sentence doesn’t mention any time frame, but the action is recent.

Let’s see each case separately:

1. The sentence mentions a time frame that reaches the present

If the action is past but the sentence mentions a time frame that reaches the present, we use the Present Perfect.

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 “today”. So in Spanish we would use the Present Perfect:

Yo he jugado al fútbol hoy.
I played soccer today.


Another example: “We have done many things this year”. Once again, the actions are past, but we are still in “this year”:

Nosotros hemos hecho muchas cosas este año.
We have done many things this year.


Last example: “I have won many times in my life”. The actions are the past, but we are still “in my life”:

He ganado muchas veces en mi vida.
I have won many times in my life.


2. The sentence doesn’t mention any time frame, but the action is recent

For example, in the following sentences it is understood that the actions are recent:

¿Qué habéis hecho vosotros?
What have you guys done?

Yo he comido pasta.
I’ve eaten pasta.

Mis amigos han visto una película.
My friends have watched a movie.

¿No has comprado el regalo?
Didn’t you buy the gift?

Placing “no”: always before the whole verb

If we want to form a negative sentence, we need to place “no” before the two words that form the Present Perfect, never in between:

No he cocinado.
I haven’t cooked.

Ellos no han dicho nada.
They haven’t said anything.

Keywords with the Present Perfect

Some keywords work very well in sentences with a verb in Present Perfect.

The following are some of them. Notice they refer to time frames that 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


Here are some sentences including keywords:

En mi vida he conocido a mucha gente.
In my life, I’ve met a lot of people.

has empezado un curso de español este mes.
You have started a Spanish course this month.

Siempre he pensado que la amistad es importante.
I’ve always thought that friendship is important.

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

Mis abuelos han venido hoy.
My grandparents have come today.


Other keywords: “ya”, “aún no”, “todavía no”

It is frequent to find the keywords “ya”, “aún no” and “todavía no” in sentences in Present Perfect.

Their meanings are:

  • ya = already
  • aún no = not yet
  • todavía no = not yet (same meaning as “aún no”)

We usually place these keywords before the verb:

Antonio ya ha estudiado la lección
Antonio has already studied the lesson.

Nosotros aún no hemos preparado nada.
We haven’t prepared anything yet.

Los teléfonos todavía no han sonado.
The phones haven’t rung yet.

The Present Perfect Vs. The Preterite

As explained in this lesson, we can use the Present Perfect in sentences where the actions are past, but the time frame we mention reaches the present.

But what if both the action AND the time frame we mention are in the past?

In that case, we tend to use another tense: the Preterite. Click here to learn the Spanish Preterite.


Practice

Let’s now practice the Spanish Present Perfect with a Quiz and some Exercises!

Quiz

Exercise 1

Read the following sentences in English and pay attention to the time frames they mention.

Which ones would we translate to Spanish in Present Perfect?

1. I’ve gone to the circus today.
2. I haven’t traveled this year.
3. Last year we went to Kenya.
4. I’ve met many people in my life.
5. We talked three months ago.
6. We have spoken.

Solution: The sentences we would translate using the Present Perfect are numbers 1, 2, 4 and 6.

For numbers 1, 2 and 4: because they mention time frames that reach the present.
For number 6: because we don’t mention any time frame, but it is understood that the action is recent.


Exercise 2

We will first practice verbs that have regular Past Participles.

Conjugate the following verbs in Present Perfect:

yo ___ _____ 1.(nadar)
___ _____ 2.(beber)
él ___ _____ 3.(vivir)
nosotros ___ _____ 4.(salir)
vosotros ___ _____ 5.(entrar)
ellos ___ _____ 6.(prometer)

Solutions:
1) he nadado
2) has bebido
3) ha vivido
4) hemos salido
5) habéis entrado
6) han prometido


Exercise 3

In the following sentences, fill the gaps using the Present Perfect of the verbs in brackets.

All these verbs have regular Past Participles:

Tú ___ _____ 1. (mejorar) mucho últimamente.
You have improved a lot lately.

Gonzalo ___ _____ 2.(dormir) la siesta hoy.
Gonzalo took a nap today.

Laura y sus amigos ___ _____ 3.(comprar) las entradas.
Laura and her friends have bought the tickets.

Yo ___ _____ 4.(comer) la carne que vosotros ___ _____ 5.(cocinar).
I have eaten the meat that you guys have cooked.

Nosotras ___ _____ 6.(nadar) dos horas.
We have swam for two hours.

Solutions:
1) has mejorado
2) ha dormido
3) han comprado
4) he comido
5) habéis cocinado
6) hemos nadado


Exercise 4

From now on, we will practice verbs that have irregular Past Participles.

Conjugate the following verbs in Present Perfect:

yo ___ _____ 1.(volver)
___ _____ 2.(ver)
él ___ _____ 3.(decir)
nosotros ___ _____ 4.(resolver)
vosotros ___ _____ 5.(satisfacer)
ellos ___ _____ 6.(poner)

Solutions:
1) he vuelto
2) has visto
3) ha dicho
4) hemos resuelto
5) habéis satisfecho
6) han puesto

Exercise 5

In the following sentences, fill the gaps using the Present Perfect of the verbs in brackets.

All these verbs have irregular Past Participles:

Nosotros ___ _____ 1.(romper) el cristal.
We have broken the glass.

¿Qué ___ _____ 2.(hacer) hoy Carmen y Marcos?
What have Carmen and Marcos done today?

Tú ___ _____ 3. (escribir) una carta muy bonita.
You have written a very nice letter.

Yo ___ _____ 4. (descubrir) cosas importantes este año.
I have discovered important things this year.

¿Qué ___ _____ 5. (decir) vosotros?
What have you guys said?

Mi padre ___ _____ 6.(resolver) el problema.
Mi father has solved the problem.

Solutions:
1) hemos roto
2) han hecho
3) has escrito
4) he descubierto
5) habéis dicho
6) ha resuelto