The Spanish present Perfect
The present perfect tense is formed by using the verb haber and the past participle of the verb.
In the previous lesson, you learned how to form the past participle of regular verbs and also learned some of the mıst essential verbs which have irregular past participle. In this lesson you will learn how to conjugate “haber” in present tense so that you can use it to form the present perfect tense.
haber in present tense
(tú ) has
(él/ella, usted) ha
(ellos/-as, ustedes) han
Conjugate “haber” in present tense and use the past participle of the verb.
To study is “estudiar” in Spanish. It has a regular past participle as all “–ar” verbs and that is “estudiado”. Hence, sentences like “I have studied”, “she has studied” etc. are built as follows
- He estudiado I have studied
- Has estudiado You have studied
- Ha estudiado He/She has studied; you have studied
- Hemos estudiado We have studied
- Habéis estudiado You have studied
- Han estudiado They have studied
Note that when building the present perfect you always use the singular and masculine version of the past participle; you do not have to chance it according to the subject pronoun, neither to number or gender.
If a reflexive verb is used in present perfect tense, the reflexive pronoun precedes the conjugated “haber”:
- Me lavo los dientes (I brush my teeth)
- Me he lavado los dientes (I have brushed my teeth)
To make a negative sentence in present perfect, add “no” before the conjugated “haber”.
- No he estudiado I have not studied
- No has estudiado You have not studied
- No ha estudiado He/She has not studied; you have not studied
- No hemos estudiado We have not studied
- No habéis estudiado You have not studied
- No han estudiado They have not studied
In Spanish, it is very important not to separate the past participle and “haber”. As shown above, the word “no” is not allowed to come between “haber” and “estudiado”.
When forming questions with the present perfect, put the auxiliary verb at the beginning:
- ¿Has probado el helado alguna vez? Have you ever tried ice cream?
Sentences with “ever” are formed by present perfect tense as in English. For this, the phrase “alguna vez” is used, as shown above. Note that it is put at the end of the sentence, it does not come between the conjugated “haber” and the past participle. Note also that if you want to make the above sentence negative, you should put the word ”no” at the beginning of the sentence.
- ¿No has probado el helado ninguna vez? Haven't you ever tried ice cream?
Recall that in Spanish it is possible to use double negatives in the same sentence as shown above. (no and ningun in the same sentence)
Use of “ya”
A frequently used adverb with present perfect tense in English is already. Also, in Spanish it is case. Already is “ya” in Spanish:
- Ya he comido (I have already eaten)
When to use present perfect?
The present tense in Spanish corresponds to more or less the present tense in English. A typical use is
- He estado tres meses en Estambul. (I have been in Istanbul for three months)
On the other hand, you should be careful, when you want to express a sentence like “I” have just arrived”. In Spanish, for such sentences, the phrase “acabar de” is used. Note that for this purpose “acabar” is conjugated in present tense. And the second verb is used as infinitive.
- Acabo de poner la radio (I just turned on the radio)
Also note that sometimes it can be challenging to decide whether to use present perfect of preterite. These two tenses will be compared in lesson comparison of past tenses.
Learn how to conjugate “hablar” (to speak) in present perfect tense:
- (yo) he hablado I have
- (tú ) has hablado You have
- (él/ella, usted) ha hablado he/she has; you have
- (nosotros/-as) hemos hablado we have
- (vosotros/-as) habéis hablado you have
- (ellos/-as, ustedes) han hablado they have; you have
Learn how to conjugate acabar in present tense
acabar: to finish
• (yo) acabo
• (tú ) acabas
• (él/ella, usted) acaba
• (nosotros/-as) acabamos
• (vosotros/-as) acabáis
• (ellos/-as, ustedes) acaban