Perfect tense in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

The Spanish perfect indicative tense, also present perfect or pretérito perfecto/pretérito perfecto compuesto de indicativo is used for actions completed in the recent past that have a connection to the present. This tense is similar to the English present perfect tense and is conjugated with the verb haber + past participle.

Learn the rules for conjugating and using the perfect indicative tense with Lingolia’s Spanish grammar lesson. In the exercises, you can practise what you have learnt. See subjunctive tenses for information on the conjugation and usage of the perfect subjunctive. In tense comparison, you will find an overview of all the tenses in Spanish grammar.

Example

Esta semana Antonio ha ordenado su despacho.

Ha planeado mantener el orden en el futuro.

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Usage

We use the Spanish perfect tense to express:

  • actions completed within a period of time that is still viewed as the present (esta mañana/semana
    este mes/verano/año/siglo)
    Example:
    Esta semana Antonio ha ordenado su despacho.This week, Antonio straightened up his office.
  • completed actions whose results influence the present or future
    Example:
    Antonio ha ordenado su despacho.Antonio has tidied up his office.

    Result: the office is neat now

    Ha planeado mantener el orden en el futuro.He has decided to keep it organised in the future.

    Result: he doesn’t want to be so disorganised in the future

Verb Conjugation in Spanish Perfect Tense

To conjugate the perfect tense in Spanish grammar, we need the present indicative form the verb haber, and the past participle (participio pasado) of the main verb. See the table below:

person haber past participle
yo he

hablado

aprendido

vivido

has
él/ella/usted ha
nosotros/-as hemos
vosotros/-as habéis
ellos/ellas/ustedes han

Past participle

The past participle is formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding the corresponding participle ending: -ar-ado, -er/-ir-ido.

Example:
hablar - hablado
aprender - aprendido
vivir - vivido

Irregular past participle

  • When an -ido ending is preceded by a vowel, we add an accent to the -i of the ending. This shows us that each vowel is spoken separately (i.e. not a diphthong).

    Example:
    leer – ldo
    traer – trdo
  • Some verbs have an irregular past participle and some verbs have both a regular and an irregular past participle form. Both the regular and irregular form are correct, although the usage varies in different regions of Spain and Latin America. The chart below provides an overview of irregular past participle forms:
verb perfect 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/subscribe
ver visto see
volver vuelto return