Spanish Present Perfect – Conjugation and Use of this Tense

Spanish Present Perfect, Title of the Grammar Lesson

The Spanish Present Perfect of the Indicative Mood (“Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto” or “Antepresente”) is a verb tense in Spanish. Although it’s called “Present Perfect”, it is actually used to talk about past actions, usually actions in the recent past.

Most verbs are regular in Spanish Present Perfect, and their conjugation is very easy. However, there are some irregulars we need to learn.

Then, we also need to understand the types of sentences where we use the Present Perfect, as opposed to other tenses such as the Preterite.

In this post we will learn how to conjugate and use verbs in Spanish Present Perfect, going through the following points:

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

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

  • The first word is the auxiliary 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. This word 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

Placement of negative “no” and Object Pronouns

It is impossible to place any word between the 2 words that form the Present Perfect. That means, if we want to construct negative sentences with “no” or place Object Pronouns (“me”, “te”, “lo”… etc) in the sentence, they should be placed before the 2 words, never in between.

Example sentences:

No he cocinado.
I haven’t cooked.

Lo has copiado.
You have copied it.

2. Use of The Spanish Present Perfect

We use the Present Perfect to talk about past actions and events, 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.

Lastly, 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.

¿No has comprado el regalo?
You haven’t bought the present?

3. Keywords and Phrases to use with the Present Perfect

The following is a list of keywords and phrases 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.

4. Other useful Keywords: “ya”, “aún no”, “todavía no”

It is also relatively frequent to find the keywords “ya”, “aún no” and “todavía no” in sentences which include the Present Perfect. These keywords are usually placed before the verb. Their meanings are:

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

It makes sense that these keywords are frequent with the Present Perfect, when talking about something that “has already happened” or ” has not yet happened”.

Example Sentences including “ya”, “aún no”, “todavía no”:

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

Ha llegado la hora y aún no hemos preparado nada.
The time has come and we have not prepared anything yet.

Son las nueve y todavía no me he levantado.
It’s nine o’clock and I haven’t got up yet.

5. The Spanish Present Perfect Vs. The Preterite

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.

6. Practice: A Quiz

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

7. 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