Spanish Present Perfect – The Ultimate Guide

Spanish Present Perfect, Title of the Grammar Lesson

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Present Perfect.

The Present Perfect of the Indicative Mood (“Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto” or “Antepresente del Indicativo”) is a verb tense in Spanish. Although it’s called “Present Perfect”, we use it 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, providing example sentences. At the end you’l find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Conjugation of verbs in Present Perfect

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 proper person: “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.

But there are also some verbs with an irregular Past Participle.

Click here to learn more about the Past Participle and its Irregularities.


With our formula in mind, here is a table showing some 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

Uses 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 do we use the Present Perfect specifically?

We use it to talk about past actions, but only in this 2 cases:

  1. The sentence mentions a time frame that reaches the present.
  2. 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


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, we would use the Present Perfect in Spanish: 

Hoy he jugado al fútbol.
I played football today.


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

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


Last example: “I have cried many times in my life”. Once again, the actions are in the past. Some of them might even be in the distant past, but the time frame “in my life” reaches the present:

He llorado muchas veces en mi vida.
I’ve cried many times in my life.


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

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

¿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?

Placement of “no” and Object Pronouns with the Present Perfect

We can’t place anything between the two words that form the Present Perfect. That means, if we want to construct negative sentences with “no”, or if we wish to add Object Pronouns (“me”, “te”, “lo”… etc), they should be placed before the 2 words of the Present Perfect, never in between.

Example sentences:

No he cocinado.
I haven’t cooked.

Lo has copiado.
You have copied it.

No me lo han dicho.
They haven’t told it to me.

Keywords and Phrases with the Present Perfect

Some keywords and phrases work very well in sentences in Present Perfect. The following are some of them. 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


And here are some sentences containing those keywords:

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.


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

We frequently find the keywords “ya”, “aún no” and “todavía no” in sentences in 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”)


Example sentences including those keywords:

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

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

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

The Spanish Present Perfect Vs. The Preterite

As explained in this lesson, we use the Present Perfect for past actions, but with a time frame that 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 all about the Spanish Preterite.


Practice the Spanish Present Perfect

Quiz

Take this Quiz and test your knowledge about the Present Perfect:

Exercise 1

Read the following sentences in English and pay attention to the time frames they mention. Which ones would you translate to Spanish in Present Perfect? After deciding, check the solution below:

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.

Solution: The sentences we would translate to Spanish using the Present Perfect are numbers 1, 2 and 4. Because the mentioned time frames reach the present.

Exercise 2

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 below:

¿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: 1 = han hecho, 2 = ha hecho, 3 = ha comprado, 4 = ha dormido, 5 = ha celebrado, 6 = han tomado, 7 = han jugado