Preterite Perfect Tense in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

The preterite perfect, also preterite anterior, (pretérito anterior) is a Spanish past tense. This tense is rare in modern spoken Spanish, however, it can still be found in literature. The preterite perfect indicates an action that took place directly before another past action. In modern Spanish, it is usually replaced by the pluperfect tense.

Learn about the conjugation and usage of the preterite perfect in Spanish grammar with Lingolia then practise what you have learnt in the exercises. In tense comparison, you will find an overview of all the tenses in Spanish grammar.

Example

Tan pronto como hubo cobrado su primer sueldo, Iván corrió raudo y veloz a comprar una guitarra para poder ir a rondar a su amada.

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Usage

The preterite perfect (pretérito anterior) expresses an action that took place directly before another action in the past.

Example:
Tan pronto como hubo cobrado su primer sueldo, Iván corrió raudo y veloz a comprar una guitarra para poder ir a rondar a su amada.As soon as he had received his first paycheck, Iván ran quickly to buy a guitar with which to serenade his girlfriend.

Verb Conjugation in Spanish Preterite Perfect

To conjugate the preterite perfect (pretérito anterior), we need the verb haber in the preterite tense and the past participle of the main verb.

person haber past participle
yo hube

hablado

aprendido

vivido

hubiste
él/ella/usted hubo
nosotros/-as hubimos
vosotros/-as hubisteis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hubieron

Past Participle

The past participle is formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding the corresponding verb ending: -ado for verbs that end in -ar or -ido for verbs that end in -er/-ir.

Example:
hablar - hablado
aprender - aprendido
vivir - vivido

Irregular past participles

  • If there is a vowel directly before the ending -ido, we have to add an accent on the -i of the ending. This shows us that each vowel is pronounced separately and not as a diphthong.

    Example:
    leer – ldo
    traer - trdo
  • Some verbs have an irregular and/or regular participle form. These verbs can be found in the following list:
verb participle translation
irregular regular
abrir abierto open
decir dicho say
escribir escrito write
hacer hecho do/make
freír frito freído fry
imprimir impreso imprimido print
morir muerto die
poner puesto place/set
proveer provisto proveído provide
suscribir suscrito/suscripto sign/suscribe
ver visto see
volver vuelto return

Signal Words

The pretérito anterior is indicated by the following words:

  • apenas
  • así que
  • cuando
  • en cuanto
  • luego que
  • no bien
  • tan pronto como
  • una vez que