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William Doyle
The Present Perfect Tense

This Spanish Grammar lesson covers the Present Perfect Tense. Similar to English, the Present Perfect in Spanish is a compound tense that is used frequently, and quite easy to learn. The Present Perfect is a compound tense because it requires an auxiliary verb, haber (to have) and the past participle of the verb. As in English, the verb haber always comes before the

present participle.

The conjugation pattern is as follows:

To Have (Present tense) + Past Participle

Here is an example of the present perfect tense in English:

Carl has worked a lot this year.

In the above example, the verb “has worked” is in the Present Perfect Tense because it indicates a fact or an act in the past. However it also indicates a period of time that has not completely elapsed.

Another use for the Present Perfect that is similar to the previous example, is to express an action that has taken place, but whose time has not been definitely established.

Here is another example of the Present Perfect in English:

Martha has eaten very little.

In this example, the verb “has eaten” is in the Present Perfect to express that Martha ate in the past. However, it implies that a definite time in which this took place has not been determined.

To understand this tense better, let’s review the conjugation of the auxiliary verb haber in the present tense:

Yo he (I have) nosotros hemos (we have)

tú has (you have) ellos han (they have)

él ha (he has) ellas han (they have)

Ella ha (she has) ustedes han (you have)

Usted ha (you have)

Remember, with haber conjugated in the present tense, all that needs to be included is the past participle of the verb that is intended.

With this in mind, what follows is the conjugation for the Present Perfect for -ar verbs.

Hablar (To Speak) Past Participle: Hablado (Spoken)

Yo he hablado (I have spoken) nosotros hemos hablado (we have spoken)

tú has hablado (you have spoken) ellos han hablado (they have spoken)

él ha hablado (he has spoken) ellas han hablado (they have spoken)

ella ha hablado (she hasspoken) ustedes han hablado (you have spoken)

usted ha hablado (you have spoken)

Here is an example with hablar:

Jaime ha hablado mucho de su boda.

(Jaime has spoken a lot about his wedding.)

Once again, notice how similar the conjugation pattern for the Present Perfect is in Spanish and English. The auxiliary verb haber (to have) always comes before the past participle of the verb.

Conjugations for regular -er and and -ir verbs mirror a similar pattern.

Comer (to eat) Past Particple: Comido (Eaten)

Yo he comido (I have eaten) nosotros hemos comido (we have eaten)

tú has comido (you have eaten) ellos han comido (they have eaten)

él ha comido (he has eaten) ellas han comido (they have eaten)

ella ha comido (she has eaten) ustedes han comido (you have eaten)

usted ha comido (you have eaten)

Here is an example with comer:

He comido mucho hoy. (I have eaten a lot today.)

Salir (to go out) Past Participle: Salido (Gone out)

Yo he salido (I have gone out) nosotros hemos salido (we have gone out)

tú has salido (you have gone out) ellos han salido (they have gone out)

él ha salido (he has gone out) ellas han salido (they have gone out)

ella ha salido (she has gone out) ustedes han salido (you have gone out)

usted ha salido (you have gone out)

Here is an example with salir:

Juan Carlos ha salido mucho esta noche.

(Juan Carlos has gone out a lot tonight.)

Even the verb ir, which is normally an irregular verb in Spanish, has a regular conjugation in the Present Perfect.

Ir (to go) Past Participle: Ido (gone)

Yo he ido (I have gone) nosotros hemos ido (we have gone)

tú has ido (you have gone) ellos han ido (they have gone)

él ha ido (he has gone) ellas han ido (they have gone)

Ella ha ido (she has gone) ustedes han ido (you have gone)

Usted ha ido (you have gone)

What follows are a few examples using the Present Perfect Tense:

Andrés ha pensado mucho en su país.

(Andrés has thought a lot about his country.)

Mi vecina Rosa y su hija Carmen han estado en casa todo el día.

(My neighbor and her daughter Carmen have been home all day.)

La República Dominicana ha producido peloteros excelentes.

(The Dominican Republic has produced excellent baseball players.)

Este año, hemos donado nuestras computadoras a esa organización.

(This year, we have donated our computers to that organization.)

He estado en Nueva York desde el año 2000.

(I have been in New York since the year 2000.)

Usted ha estado de dieta.

(You have been on a diet.)

Despite the Present Perfect’s relatively simple conjugation, it should be noted that the Present Perfect Tense is also used with reflexive verbs.

This is expressed in the following example:

Mi papá se ha afeitado hoy.

(My father has shaved today.)

Note how the previously discussed pattern for the Present Perfect Tense is repeated. The only difference is that the reflexive pronoun must come before the auxiliary verb haber and before the past participle of the verb.

Reflexive Pronoun + Present tense of Haber + Past Participle

Other examples of reflexive verbs in the Present Perfect Tense are:

Me he cansado mucho hoy.

(I have been tired a lot today.)

El bebé de Juanita se ha enfermado.

(Juanita’s baby has gotten sick.)

Las muchachas se han divertido en el parque.

(The girls have had fun in the park.)

Te has sentado.

(You have sat down.)

Now let’s try a few exercises. Translate the following into Spanish. The answers follow the exercise.

1. My friends have eaten my food.

2. Have you brushed your teeth?

3. Mariaelena and I have gone out to play.

4. The volunteer doctors have helped them a lot.

5. Roberto and Ana have gotten married.

6. Our son John has visited his aunt and uncle.

7. David has talked a lot during the class.

8. Frida has wanted to go to school early.

1. Mis amigos han comido mi comida.

2. ¿Te has cepillado los dientes?

3. Mariaelena y yo hemos salido a jugar.

4. Los doctores voluntarios los han ayudado mucho.

5. Roberto y Ana se han casado.

6. Nuestro hijo John ha visitado a sus tios.

7. David ha hablado mucho durante la clase.

8. Frida ha querido ir a la escuela temprano.
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