Perfect Tense in Spanish Grammar

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What is the perfect tense in Spanish?

The Spanish preterite perfect (el pretérito perfecto) is an indicative tense that expresses a completed action that occurred within an unfinished or ongoing time period: e.g. hoy (= today), esta semana (= this week), este año (= this year).

This tense is similar in meaning to the English present perfect tense (have done, have asked, have seen…) and is conjugated with the auxiliary verb haber + participle.

Learn all about the perfect tense in Spanish with Lingolia, then practise in the exercises.


—¡Hola, Nadia! ¿Cómo estás?

—Hola, Camila. Pues bastante cansada. Esta semana he viajado mucho por trabajo, he dormido fuera de casa casi todos los días y tampoco he comido muy bien… ya sabes, ¡la vida de los hoteles!

—Vaya, cuánto lo siento. Además he visto en tus redes sociales que te has mudado, ¿verdad?

—¡Sí! Raúl y yo nos hemos mudado a un piso precioso en el centro. Hemos hecho la mudanza nosotros solos y hemos acabado agotados.

—Me lo puedo imaginar. Oye, me apetece mucho verte. ¿Nos vemos pronto?

—Ojalá que sí. Aunque este fin de semana he quedado para hacer una ruta por la sierra…

When to use the perfect tense in Spanish

The perfect tense expresses recently completed actions that occurred in a time period that extends up to and includes the present moment.

Esta semana he viajado mucho por trabajo.This week, I’ve been travelling a lot for work.
Raúl y yo nos hemos mudado a un piso precioso en el centro.Raúl and I have moved into a beautiful new flat in the city centre.
Este fin de semana he quedado para hacer una ruta por la sierra.This weekend I’ve arranged to go hiking in the mountains.

Signal words

The table below shows some of the most common signal words for the Spanish perfect tense.

Signal Word Meaning Example
hoy today Hoy he comido con algunos compañeros del trabajo.Today I ate with some colleagues.
esta mañana/semana… this morning/this week Esta semana he viajado mucho por trabajo.This week I’ve been travelling a lot for work.
este mes/año… this month/this year Este fin de semana he quedado para hacer una ruta de senderismo.I’ve arranged to go hiking in the mountains this weekend.
ya already Ya ha llegado la pizza.The pizza has already arrived.
todavía no, aún no not yet, still Todavía no he terminado el libro.I still haven’t finished the book yet.
hace ago He visto a tu novio hace un rato en el supermercado.I saw your boyfriend in the supermarket a while ago.
siempre, nunca always, never Nunca hemos visto una aurora boreal.We’ve never seen the northern lights.
últimamente recently/lately ¿Habéis hablado últimamente?Have you spoken lately?

How to conjugate the Spanish perfect tense

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

Person haber Participle
yo he




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

Reflexive Verbs

When the main verb is reflexive, we place the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) before the auxiliary verb haber.

beberseTe has bebido el vaso de agua de un trago.You drank the glass of water in one go!

How to form the Spanish participle

We form the Spanish participle by adding -ado or -ido to the root of the verb.

  • add -ado to the root of -ar verbs
    hablar → habladospeak → spoken
  • add -ido to the root of -er and -ir verbs
    aprender → aprendidolearn → learned
    vivir → vividolive → lived


When the root of the verb ends in a vowel, the -i of the ending -ido takes an accent: -ído.

leer → leídoread → read
oír → oídohear → heard
traer → traídobring → brought

Note: Participles that contain a dipthong (weak vowel + weak vowel) such as construido or huido do not take an accent.

Check out our Spanish-language page on accents to learn more about dipthongs.

Irregular participles

Certain verbs have an irregular participle form as shown in the table below:

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

*Some verbs have two participle forms, one regular and one irregular. There is no difference in meaning and they can be used interchangeably.

**The participle suscripto is used in certain countries in Latin America.

Derivative irregular verbs

Many verbs are derivative; they are derived from irregular verbs by adding a prefix. Their participles are also irregular:

encubrir → encubiertohide → hidden
descubrir → descubiertodiscover → discovered
componer → compuestocompose → composed
posponer → pospuestopostpone → postponed
proponer → propuestopropose → proposed
revolver → revueltostir → stirred
resolver → resueltoresolve → resolved
devolver → devueltoreturn → returned
deshacer → deshechoundo → undone
predecir → predichopredict → predicted
prever → previstoforecast → forecasted

Note: although derived from the irregular verb romper, the participle of the verb corromper is regular.

corromper → corrompidocorrupt → corrupted
not: corroto