The PRESENT PERFECT TENSE or PRETÉRITO PERFECTO in Spanish describes what a person has done in an indeterminate point the past, it used very much to talk about experiences when it is not important when the event(s) took place, or to talk about an action that happened in the recent past.
Hemos ido a Bolivia dos veces (We have gone to Bolivia twice-it is not important when.)
He visto a Mercedes en el pasillo (I have seen Mercedes on the corridor- I understand that recently.)
In the video below you will learn everything you need to know about the Spanish Present Perfect or el Pretérito Perfecto.
Using and forming the present perfect tense
1. Because the present perfect tense is a compound tense, you will be working with two verbs, not one. To form verbs in this tense, first conjugate haber (to have) in the present (not tener, even though it means to have too):
|HABER – to have (auxiliary)|
|(yo) he||(nosotros, -as) hemos|
|(tú) has||(vosotros, -as) habéis|
|(usted) ha||(ustedes) han|
|(él, ella) ha||(ellos, -as) han|
2. The conjugated form of haber is followed by the past participle of the desired verb. Most past participle in Spanish are regulars. The pattern for regular past participles are below:
Ya has hablado con Enrique (you have already spoken to Enrique.)
Nunca he comido ceviche (I have never eaten ceviche.)
Todavia no hemos recibido los regalos (We haven’t received the present yet.)
There are several common verbs that have irregular past participles: ver =visto, ir= ido, hacer = hecho, escribir = escrito, decir = dicho, volver = vuelto, abrir= abierto, poner = puesto, morir= muerto, imprimir= impreso... (learn more about past participles).
3. The auxiliary verb (haber) and the past participle are never separated in Spanish, unlike in English. If object pronouns are present, they go immediately before haber.
¿Los has visto? (Have you seen them?)
Se las he dado. (I have given them to her.)
4. It is mainly used with expressions such as nunca (never), ya (already), todavía no (not yet), a veces (sometimes), ¿alguna vez (ever)? …
This form is widely used in Spain, while in Latin and South America, the preterite is used more often. In the following examples, you can see some differences between the ways to use this tense:
Este mes he viajado a Perú. (This month I have traveled to Peru-Spain.)
Este mes viajé a Perú. (This month I traveled to Peru-America.)
Hoy he llegado tarde a trabajar. (Today I arrived late to work– Spain.)
Hoy llegué tarde a trabajar. (Today I arrived late to work-America.)
5. The present perfect tense is NOT used:
- to indicate an action still in progress. The present tense is used to do this:
Hace tres años que vivo aquí. (I have lived here for three years.)
- to express the idea to have just done something. It is more common to use the periphrasis acabar + de to convey this idea.
Acabo de leer este libro. (I have just finished reading this book.)
6. Finally, notice that the verb is usually called present perfect indicative because there is also a present perfect subjunctive, but don’t panic this second present perfect is much easier to learn. Remember to contact your tutor with any questions you have or to ask for more homework. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?