Present Perfect Subjunctive in Spanish Grammar

What is the present perfect subjunctive?

The present perfect subjunctive (el pretérito perfecto de subjuntivo), is used when the action was completed prior to the main clause. The action can be past or future.

Read on to learn about the present perfect subjunctive in Spanish grammar. Master the conjugation, then put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises. If you want to refresh your memory about the subjunctive mood in general, check out our page on the difference between the indicative and the subjunctive.

Example

Esperamos que la operación haya sido todo un éxito.

Los familiares podrán ver al paciente en cuanto haya salido del quirófano.

The present perfect subjunctive

We use the present perfect subjunctive when the action in the subordinate clause was completed before the main clause.

Example:
Esperamos que la operación haya sido todo un éxito.We hope that the operation was a success.
action 1 (esperamos) is happening at the moment of speaking; action 2 (la operación) happened earlier

The verb in the main clause can be conjugated in the present, present perfect or future indicative or the imperative. The subordinate clause can refer to an action in the past or the future.

Examples:
Esperamos que la operación de esta mañana haya sido todo un éxito.We hope that the operation this morning was successful. → past action
Me ha preocupado que hayan tardado tanto en avisarnos.I was worried that they took so long to notify us. → past action
Los familiares podrán ver al paciente en cuanto haya salido del quirófano.Family members will be able to see the patient as soon as he is out of surgery.future action
Llámame cuando hayas leído mi mensaje.Call me when you have read my message.future action

How to conjugate the present perfect subjunctive

Regular verbs

To conjugate regular verbs in the present perfect subjunctive, we take the present subjunctive of the verb haber followed by the participle of the main verb.

Person Auxiliary Participle
yo haya

hablado

aprendido

vivido

hayas
él, ella, usted haya
nosotros/-as hayamos
vosotros/-as hayáis
ellos/-as, ustedes hayan

How to form the Spanish participle

The Spanish participle is formed by removing the infinitive ending of the verb (-ar, -er, -ir) and adding -ado to -ar verbs and -ido to -ir/-er verbs.

Examples:
hablar - hablado
aprender - aprendido
vivir - vivido

Reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs are conjugated with a reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) that agrees in gender and number with the subject. In the present perfect subjunctive, the reflexive pronoun always comes before the auxiliary haber.

Example:
levantarse → yo me haya levantado

Irregular participles

Some participles are irregular.

Verb Irregular Participle Regular Participle
abrir abierto
decir dicho
escribir escrito
hacer hecho
freír* frito freído
imprimir* impreso imprimido
morir muerto
poner puesto
proveer provisto proveído
suscribir suscrito
ver visto
volver vuelto

*Both participle forms are correct and used interchangeably.

Participles of compound verbs

Compound verbs are formed by adding a prefix to an infinitive. In the participle form, these compound verbs keep the same irregularity as the original infinitive.

Examples:
encubrir → encubierto
descubrir → descubierto
componer → compuesto
posponer → pospuesto
proponer → propuesto
revolver → revuelto
devolver → devuelto
deshacer → deshecho
prever → previsto

Participles ending in -ído

For -er verbs whose stem ends in a vowel, we add an accent to the i of the participle ending: -ído.

Example:
leer – leído
traer - traído
caer - caído

When to use the present perfect subjunctive

Subjectivity

The subjunctive allows the speaker to show their attitude towards the information presented. Whether the information is true or false is irrelevant, the speaker’s subjectivity is the focus.

The expression or clause that introduces the subjunctive indicates the speaker’s feelings.

Examples:
Ojalá la operación haya salido bien.Hopefully the operation went well.subjective statement, subjunctive
La operación ha sido un éxito.The operation was a success.standard affirmative statement, indicative

This subjectivity can take several forms:

Type of Subjectivity Examples
Feelings and emotions Me alegra que la operación haya salido bien.I’m happy that the operation went well.
Wishes and desires Espero la operación haya salido bien.I hope the operation went well.
¡Ojalá…!, ¡Que…! ¡Ojalá todo haya salido bien!Hopefully everything went well!
Evaluations and judgements Es necesario que los familiares se hayan apuntado en la lista de visitantes para pasar.Family members must be registered on the visitor’s list in order to come in.
Negated opinions and doubts No creo que haya salido ya del quirófano.I don’t think that he is out of surgery yet.
Probability and uncertainty Quizá hayan tenido alguna complicación.Maybe there has been a complication.

Feelings and emotions

Verbs that express the speaker’s feelings about an action or situation always take the subjunctive.

  • Typical verbs: lamentar, odiar, sentir, no soportar, temer, etc.
  • Verbs that take a personal pronoun as their indirect object (me/te/le/nos/os/les): dar envidia, encantar, emocionar, extrañar, gustar, indignar, molestar, parecer bien/mal, poner nervioso/-a/-os/-as, sorprender, etc.

If the main clause is conjugated in the present or perfect indicative, the feeling or emotion is current but refers to something in the past.

Example:
Me preocupa que no nos hayan dicho nada todavía.I’m worried that they haven’t told us anything yet.

If the verb in the main clause is conjugated in the future or the imperative, the feeling or emotion is the result of something in the future.

Example:
Me tranquilizaré cuando haya salido del quirófano.I will relax when he is out of surgery.

Desires and wishes

Verbs and structures that express desires, wishes and preferences are followed by the subjunctive.

  • Typical verbs and expressions: esperar, desear, preferir, querer, soñar con, tener ganas de, (me, te...) gustaría, (me, te...) encantaría, etc.

When the verb is in the present perfect subjunctive, the speaker’s desire or wish refers to a completed past action that affects the present.

Example:
Esperamos que la operación haya sido un éxito.We hope that the operation was a success.

¡Ojalá…!, ¡Que…!

The expressions ¡Ojalá...! and ¡Que...! introduce the subjunctive. They express a wish that the speaker considers feasible in the present or future.

Examples:
¡Ojalá que la operación haya salido bien!I hope that the operation has gone well!
¡Que haya salido todo bien!I hope that everything has gone well!

Evaluations and judgements

The structure (no) ser/estar... que introduces the subjunctive. Such phrases allow the speaker to evaluate a situation from a neutral perspective..

Example:
Es necesario que los familiares se hayan apuntado en la lista de visitantes para pasar.Family members must be registered on the visitor’s list in order to come in.

If the subject is general and not mentioned explicitly, we use the infinitive instead of que + subjunctive.

Example:
Es necesario haberse apuntado en la lista de visitantes para pasar.You have to register on the visitor’s list in order to come in.

Note

In the affirmative form, the following structures take the indicative: ser cierto que, estar claro que, estar comprobado que, ser evidente que, ser obvio que, ser verdad que.

But: in the negated form, the same structures take the subjunctive.

Examples:
Está claro que el paciente aún no ha salido del quirófano.It’s clear that the patient isn’t out of surgery yet.
but: No está claro que el paciente haya salido ya del quirófano.It’s not clear whether the patient is out of surgery yet.

Probability and uncertainty

Structures that express a degree of probability or uncertainty can be followed by the subjunctive or the indicative depending on the context.

Expression Indicative Subjunctive Examples
quizá(s)* x x Quizá hayan tenido alguna complicación.Maybe there has been a complication.
tal vez* x x Tal vez hayan tenido alguna complicación.Maybe there has been a complication.
puede (ser) que x Puede que el paciente ya haya salido del quirófano.Perhaps the patient is already out of surgery.
es (im)posible que x Es posible que el paciente ya haya salido del quirófano.Maybe the patient is already out of surgery.
posiblemente*, probablemente*, seguramente* x x Posiblemente, la operación haya sido un éxito.Maybe the operation has been a success.
igual x Igual han tenido alguna complicación.Maybe there has been a complication.
a lo mejor x A lo mejor ya ha salido del quirófano.Maybe he is already out of surgery.

*The expressions quizá(s), tal vez, posiblemente, probablemente and seguramente are followed by the indicative when they talk about the past, e.g. Seguramente ya ha salido del quirófano.I’m sure he was already out of surgery.

Negated opinions and doubts

Verbs of thought and opinion are only followed by the subjunctive when they are negated.

Examples:
No creo que el paciente ya haya salido del quirófano.I don’t think that the patient is already out of surgery.subjunctive
Creo el paciente ya ha salido del quirófano.I think that the patient is already out of surgery.indicative
  • Verbs of opinion: creer, estar seguro/-a/-os/-as de, parecer, pensar, suponer, etc.

Note

The verb dudar is always followed by the subjunctive.

Examples:
Dudo que la operación haya sido difícil.I doubt that the operation was difficult.
No dudo que la operación haya sido difícil.I don’t doubt that the operation was difficult.

Sequence of tenses with the present perfect subjunctive

When the subordinate clause contains the present perfect subjunctive, the verb in the main clause can appear in the present, perfect or future indicative, or in the imperative.

The past of the past

When the verb in the main clause is in the present or the perfect, the action in the subjunctive has already happened; it occurred in a past time period that continues up to the moment of speaking.

Examples:
Esperamos que la operación de esta mañana haya sido todo un éxito.We hope that the operation this morning was a success.past action
the operation happened prior to the moment of speaking
Me ha preocupado que hayan tardado tanto en avisarnos.I was worried that it took them so long to inform us.past action
they informed us before the moment of speaking, but they took their time

The past of the future

When the verb in the main clause is in the future or the imperative, the action in the subjunctive also takes place in the future, but before the action in the main clause.

Examples:
Los familiares podrán ver al paciente en cuanto haya salido del quirófano.Family members will be able to see the patient as soon as he is out of surgery. → future action
first the patient will leave surgery, then family members can visit
Llámame cuando hayas leído mi mensaje.Call me when you have read my message. → future action
first you will read my message, then you will call me

Conjunctions that take the subjunctive

The present perfect subjunctive is also used after certain conjunctions. These are linking words that connect a main clause to a subordinate clause. Learn more about which Spanish conjunctions take the subjunctive.

Example:
Los familiares podrán ver al paciente en cuanto haya salido del quirófano.Family members will be able to see the patient as soon as he is out of surgery.

The subjunctive in sentences with two subjects

Another feature of subjunctive sentences is that there is usually a change of subject (el cambio de sujeto) between the main clause and the subordinate clause. When the subject is the same in both clauses, we use the infinitive rather than the subjunctive.

Examples:
Esperamos que la operación haya sido todo un éxito.We hope that the operation was a success.
change of subject: subject 1 (nosotros) vs. subject 2 (la operación)
Esperamos tener buenas noticias pronto.We hope that we’ll get good news soon.
no change of subject: subject 1 (nosotros) = subject 2 (nosotros)

Learn more about the subjunctive in sentences with two different subjects.

Verbs and expressions that take the subjunctive

Check out the following lists to see which Spanish verbs and expressions take the subjunctive: