Austin Meusch

On a caffeine-fueled mission to make speaking assignments in world language classrooms as fast and easy as possible.

The Present Perfect Tense in Spanish

Jul 26, 2021 | 0 comments

What Is The Present Perfect Tense in Spanish?

The Spanish present perfect tense is generally used for descriptions of completed events or actions with a specific endpoint in time that are relevant or have taken place immediately before the present moment. Use the present perfect to make a comment about the present state of affairs for someone regarding a completed action from the past.

For Example:

have eaten at that restaurant before. We have seen that show already. I have just read your email. She has had enough of his drama!

Source: LINGVIST

Learn when to use the present tense and how to conjugate the present tense in Spanish. You will learn the most common uses for the present tense in Spanish, and you will learn formulas and important information about verbs in present in Spanish. This lesson will help you to use the present tense in correct contexts, to use it well and with confidence. Watching this video about the present in Spanish will also help you to learn the verb conjugations in general in Spanish.

 

Why Does Spanish Have The Present Perfect Tense?

In Spanish (and English) we use the Present Perfect tense to describe an action that

  • we’re waiting for but hasn’t happened yet
  • began in the past but continues into the now
  • happened at multiple times in the past and may happen again

Examples:

Mis invitados no han llegado – My guests haven’t arrived

No han llamado – They haven’t called

He dormido aqui por cinco horas – I have slept here for five hours

How to Form The Past Perfect Tense in Spanish?

Luckily, this tense follows the same pattern in Spanish as it does in English. Making it one of the easier concepts to learn. Here are the steps the form the past perfect tense:

Step 1: Conjugate the helping verb haber into the present tense in Spanish

Spanish English
yo he hablado I have spoken
has hablado you have spoken 
él / ella ha hablado he/she has spoken
ellos / ellas han hablado they have spoken
nosotros / nosotras hemos hablado we have spoken
   

Step 2: Follow with the past participle of the main verb

Spanish verbs end in -ir, -er, or -ar. To convert the verb to its past participle simply follow the rules below.

Regular Verb Past Participle
-ir -ido
-er -ido
-ar -ado

Now, let’s see that in action

Verb Spanish English
comer yo he comido I have eaten
hablar tú has hablado you have spoken
volver él / ella ha vuelto he / she has returned
decir ellos / ellas han dicho they have said
sonreír nosotros / nosotras hemos sonreído we have smiled
     

Keep in mind..

Irregulars

Most of the past participles in English are formed by adding ‘ed’ or ‘en’ to the infinitive form. That’s not to say there aren’t a few Irregular Past Participles in English, such as do. We say we are done instead of we are doed.

Unfortunately, Spanish does have Irregular Past Participles as well. The list below contains a few of the common Irregular Past Participles. 

escrito (escribir)
hecho (hacer)
muerto (morir)
roto (romper)
vuelto (volver)
abierto (abrir)
dicho (decir)
puesto (poner)
visto (ver)
descubierto (descubrir)

 

Open in Speakable

 

Pattern Recognition

Spanish words you’ll often see in present-perfect-tense sentences

  • Jamás (never) 
  • ya (already)
  • Todavía (still or yet)

Haber vs. Tener: The battle of the haves!

One of the first verbs Spanish students learn is tener. In this case, it’s important to note that haber, also meaning to have, is used as a helper to form the perfect tense. It’s never used to communicate possession. On the flip side, tener is never used as a helper (auxiliary) verb and is the go-to verb to communicate possession.

 
Verb Spanish English
comer yo he comido I have eaten
hablar tú has hablado you have spoken
volver él / ella ha vuelto he / she has returned
decir ellos / ellas han dicho they have said
sonreír nosotros / nosotras hemos sonreído we have smiled
     

Keep in mind..

Irregulars

Most of the past participles in English are formed by adding ‘ed’ or ‘en’ to the infinitive form. That’s not to say there aren’t a few Irregular Past Participles in English, such as do. We say we are done instead of we are doed.

Unfortunately, Spanish does have Irregular Past Participles as well. The list below contains a few of the common Irregular Past Participles. 

escrito (escribir)
hecho (hacer)
muerto (morir)
roto (romper)
vuelto (volver)
abierto (abrir)
dicho (decir)
puesto (poner)
visto (ver)
descubierto (descubrir)

 

Open in Speakable

 

Pattern Recognition

Spanish words you’ll often see in present-perfect-tense sentences

  • Jamás (never) 
  • ya (already)
  • Todavía (still or yet)

Haber vs. Tener: The battle of the haves!

One of the first verbs Spanish students learn is tener. In this case, it’s important to note that haber, also meaning to have, is used as a helper to form the perfect tense. It’s never used to communicate possession. On the flip side, tener is never used as a helper (auxiliary) verb and is the go-to verb to communicate possession.

 

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