Spanish Present Perfect Tense


Just as in English, the present perfect is a compound tense. Spanish uses the auxiliary verb haber (“to have”) plus the past participle (called the “participio”) of the main verb to form the present perfect. For example: He comido en ese restaurante antes. I have eaten at that restaurant before.

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The present perfect tense is formed by the auxiliary verb “has,” or “have,” “haber,”plus the past participle. Remember that the past participle is formed by dropping the “ar,” or “er” of a verb and adding “ado,” or “ido.”

Examples: hacer – haciendo. The present perfect tense requires two verbs: I have written – Yo he escrito (have) is the auxiliary verb and written is the main verb.

Haber + past participle – He corrido – I run

The conjugation of the verb Hacer is as follows:

                 Singular         Plural
Yo he escrito  Ellos han escrito
Tu has escrito  Nosotros hemos escrito
El ha escrito  Vosotros habeis escrito
Ella ha escrito  Ustedes han escrito
Yo heEllos han
Tu hasNosotros hemos
El haUstedes han

In spite of its name, the present perfect tense is shown as an action in the past. Something that has been completed and has to do with the present. In English, it is possible to separate “have” from the past participle, however in Spanish you cannot separate “haber,” from the past participle.

Me he comprado un vestido largo.   I have bought a long dress.

Lo hemos pensado mucho ayer.     We have thought about it a lot yesterday.

You should be aware, however, that the Spanish present perfect tense should not always be thought of as the equivalent of the English present perfect tense. In many regions, it can be used as the equivalent of the English simple past tense. Sometimes the context will make this clear:

Ha llegado ayer por la noche.   He arrived yesterday at night.

Ellos han bailado toda la noche.     They danced all night.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.