Spanish Perfect Tense

The Spanish perfect tense is one of the past tenses in Spanish.

In English it is normally equivalent to the situation where in English we say “have –ed”, for example, “I have talked”, “you have talked”, “he/she has talked”, etc.

[Note: In Spanish the ‘preterite tense’ as well as the ‘imperfect tense’ are other past tenses and these tenses are usually more commonly used than the perfect tense, but you should still be able to use the perfect tense].

How to form the Spanish Perfect tense

The first stage: During the first stage you form the perfect tense is by using the appropriate form of “haber” (to have) as follows.

  • He = I have….
  • Has = You have (speaking to one friend/one young child)….
  • Ha = It/He/She has + You have (speaking to one stranger)….
  • Hemos = We have….
  • Habéis = You have (speaking to 2(+) friends/young children)….
  • Han = They have + You have (speaking to strangers)….

The second stage: During the second stage you work out what the “past participle” is. This is equivalent to our ‘-ed’ ending word in English:

  • With –ar verbs you change the “ar” to “ado” (‘jugar’ = ‘to play’ becomes ‘jugado‘ = ‘played‘)
  • With –er verbs you change the “er” to “ido” (‘vender’ = to sell becomes ‘vendido’ = ‘sold’)
  • With –ir verbs you change the “ir” to “ido” (‘salir’ = ‘to go out’ becomes ‘salido‘ = ‘gone out’)

The third stage: At this stage you put the two words together to make a sentence.

Examples:

  • He jugado = I have played
  • Has vendido = You have sold (informal & singular)
  • Ha salido = It/He/She has gone out + You have gone out (speaking to one stranger)

Irregular Past Participles

In Spanish, just like in English, there are some irregular past participles which need to be learnt. (Just like in English our past participles do not always end in –ed). These are some you are likely to need:

abierto (opened)
abrir (to open)
cubierto (covered)
cubrir (to cover)
dicho (said/told)
decir (to say/to tell)
descubierto (discovered)
descubrir (to discover)
descrito (described)
describir (to describe)
escrito (written)
escribir (to write)
hecho (done/made)
hacer (to do/to make)
muerto (died)
morir (to die)
puesto (placed/put)
poner (to place/put)
roto (broken)
romper (to break)
visto (seen)
ver (to see)
vuelto (returned)
volver (to return)

Although the above past participles are irrgular, you use these in the same way as other verbs, for example:

  • He visto…. = I have seen….
  • Hemos roto…. = We have broken

I hope the above post has given you a good understanding of how to form the Spanish Perfect Tense. Please share this post using the Social Media links towards the bottom of this page.


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