Spanish - the Perfect Tenses

As an auxiliary verb, haber in Spanish and "to have" in English are used to form the perfect tenses.

One meaning of "perfect," (which we don't see very often today outside of literature), is "complete." The perfect verb tenses, then, refer to completed actions (although they aren't the only way of referring to completed actions).

http://spanish.about.com/od/verbtenses/a/haber_perfect.htm

HideShow resource information

The Present Perfect Tense

Formed by using the present tense (indicative) conjugations of the auxiliary ver 'haber' (to have):

  • he
  • has
  • ha
  • hemos
  • habéis
  • han

+ the past participle of the main verb. Regular past participles are formed by dropping the 'ar' or 'ir'/'er' endings from the infinitive and adding 'ado' and 'ido' respectively.

http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/presperfect.htm

1 of 15

The Present Perfect Tense Cont.:

The present perfect tense is frequently used for past actions that continue into the present, or continue to affect the present:

  • He estado dos semanas en Madrid.

      I have been in Madrid for two weeks.

  • Diego ha sido mi amigo por veinte años.

      Diego has been my friend for 20 years.

The present perfect tense is often used with the adverb "ya" (already):

  • Ya han comido.
       They have already eaten.
  • La empleada ya ha limpiado la casa.
       The maid has already cleaned the house.
2 of 15

The Present Perfect Tense Cont. 2:

The auxiliary verb and the past participle are never separated. To make the sentence negative, add the word "no" before the conjugated form of haber:

  • No he comido.

I have not eaten.

Object pronouns are placed immediately before the auxiliary verb:

  • Pablo le ha dado mucho dinero a su hermana.

Pablo has given a lot of money to his sister.

To make this sentence negative, the word "no" is placed before the indirect object pronoun (le):

  • Pablo no le ha dado mucho dinero a su hermana.

Pablo has not given a lot of money to his sister.

3 of 15

The Present Perfect Tense Cont. 3:

With reflexive verbs, the reflexive pronoun is placed immediatedly before the auxiliary verb. Compare how the present perfect differs from the simple present, when a reflexive verb is used:

  • Me cepillo los dientes. (present)

I brush my teeth.

  • Me he cepillado los dientes. (present perfect)

I have brushed my teeth.

To make this sentence negative, the word "no" is placed before the reflexive pronoun (me):

  • No me he cepillado los dientes.

I have not brushed my teeth.

4 of 15

The Present Perfect Tense Cont. 4:

Questions are formed as follows. Note how the word order is different than the English equivalent:

  • ¿Han salido ya las mujeres?

Have the women left yet?

  • ¿Has probado el chocolate alguna vez?

Have you ever tried chocolate?

In the negative form the auxiliary verb and the past participle are not separated:

  • ¿No han salido ya las mujeres?

Haven't the women left yet?

  • ¿No has probado el chocolate ninguna vez?

Haven't you ever tried chocolate?

5 of 15

The Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Tense:

In Spanish, the past perfect tense is formed by using the imperfect (indicative) tense of the auxiliary verb "haber" with the past participle of the main verb. Haber is conjugated as follows:

  • había
  • habías
  • había
  • habíamos
  • habíais
  • habían

http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/pastperfect.htm

6 of 15

The Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Tense Cont.:

The past perfect tense is used to indicate that an action was completed at some specified or implied time in the past. E.e.: when a past action was completed prior to another past action. The expressions "ya", "antes", "nunca", "todavía" and "después" often appear in sentences where one past action happens after another past action:

  • Cuando llegaron los padres, los niños ya habían comido.

When the parents arrived, the children had already eaten.

  • Yo había comido antes de llamarles.

I had eaten prior to calling them.

7 of 15

The Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Tense Cont. 2:

The idea of a past action being completed before another past action need not always be stated; it can be implied:

  •   Juan había cerrado la ventana antes de salir. (stated)

Juan had closed the window before leaving.

  •   Juan había cerrado la ventana. (implied)

Juan had closed the window.


The rules for keeping the auxialiary and main verbs together, forming negatives, forming questions and using object/reflexive pronouns are the same as for the present perfect tense.

8 of 15

The Future Perfect Tense:

As with the other perfect tenses, the future perfect is formed by combining the auxiliary verb "haber" with the past participle. In this case, "haber" is conjugated in the future (indicative) tense:

  • habré
  • habrás
  • habrá
  • habremos
  • habréis
  • habrán

http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/futureperfect.htm

9 of 15

The Future Perfect Tense Cont.:

The future perfect tense is used to describe what will have happened in the future before a different action takes place, or by a specific time:

  • Habré estudiado antes de que tome la prueba.

I will have studied before I take the test.

  • Habrá finalizado la tarea para las seis.

He will have completed the task by six o'clock.

10 of 15

The Future Perfect Tense Cont. 2:

Because the future tense in Spanish can sometimes be used to indicate likelihood or supposition, the same is true when haber is used in the future tense. In such cases, the future perfect tense can often be translated as "must have," "may have" or "might have" to refer to something that has already occurred:

  • Paula habrá sabido nada de él.

Paula must have known nothing about him.

  • No sé de dónde habrán salido estos datos.

I don't know where this data might have come from.

  • ¿Adónde habrán ido mis caros amigos?

Where might my dear friends have gone?

http://spanish.about.com/od/verbtenses/a/future_perfect.htm

11 of 15

The Conditional Perfect:

The Spanish past conditional (aka conditional perfect) is used to indicate an action that would have occurred in the past if a certain condition had been met. The latter can be stated or implied. It is formed by using the conditional conjugations of 'haber' and the past particple:

  • había
  • habías
  • había
  • habíamos
  • habíais
  • habían

http://www.elearnspanishlanguage.com/grammar/verb/conditionalperfect.html

12 of 15

The Conditional Perfect Cont.:

The conditional perfect is used in two main ways:

To express something that would have happened but didn’t. Such sentences typically contain a dependent clause explaining why the action did not occur, often in conditional sentences (si clauses). When forming the dependent clause, keep the following two rules in mind:

  • When this dependent clause begins with but, the verb in that clause is in the indicative.
  • When the dependent clause begins with if, the verb in the clause is in the imperfect subjunctive.
13 of 15

The Conditional Perfect Cont. 2:

  • Nosotros habríamos ido, pero teníamos que trabajar.

We would have gone, but we had to work.

  • Él habría hablado con ella, pero no entendía la situación.

He would have talked with her, but he didn’t understand the situation.

Note: Use the indicative after but in the dependent clause.

  • Ellos habrían ganado más dinero, si hubieran trabajado más horas. 

They would have earned more money if they had worked more hours.

  • Tú habrías salido más temprano, si ellos te hubieran llamado a tiempo.

You would have left earlier if they had called you on time.

Note: Use the imperfect subjunctive after if in the dependent clause.

14 of 15

The Conditional Perfect Cont. 3:

The conditional perfect is also used to express probabiltity or suppostion in the past:

  • Lucas habría comido antes de salir.

Lucas had probably eaten before going out.

  • Habrían sido las dos cuando llegamos.

It must have been 2 o'clock when we arrived.

15 of 15

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Spanish resources:

See all Spanish resources »See all resources »