If you’re serious about mastering Spanish, there’s no way around the verb tenses – especially the present perfect Spanish (pretérito perfecto).
It’s commonly used in daily communication. Learning it can help express complex ideas and events more clearly.
In this guide, you’ll learn when to use it and how to use it — all in a simple way with plenty of examples, so even if you’ve struggled with the present perfect in the past, you’ll find it easy to understand.
Before you start, check out this great video summary about Spanish tenses by Mariana from Spring Languages (a platform I’m a co-founder)!
Now, let’s dive in to learn more about the present perfect in Spanish!
1. What is the Present Perfect Spanish?
It bridges the gap between past and present:
- it suggests an action that happened at an unspecified time before now OR
- describes an action that started in the past and continues in the present.
It is often used to describe actions that are not finished.
- He leído el libro que me recomendaste. (I have read the book that you recommended to me). – The speaker is referencing a past action (specifically reading the book), which remains relevant either because they are currently discussing the book or its effects still hold true.
- Has visto la nueva serie de Netflix? (Have you seen the new Netflix series?) – The speaker is asking about a recent past action (watching the new series) that still has a connection to the present moment.
- Nosotros hemos viajado por toda Europa. (We have traveled throughout Europe.) – This sentence indicates that the action of traveling throughout Europe was completed at some point before now, and the speaker is emphasizing that they have this experience in their past and might still have some memories or impacts from the trip.
- Ellos han hecho un pastel delicioso. (They have made a delicious cake.) – The use of Present Perfect here suggests that the action of making the cake occurred recently, and its result (a delicious cake) is still relevant or visible in the present.
2. How to Form the Present Perfect in Spanish: Haber + Past Participle
To correctly form the present perfect in Spanish, you have to use the auxiliary verb “haber” (to have) in the present tense together with the past participle of the main verb.
Conjugation of Haber
In the Present Perfect tense, “haber” is conjugated based on the subject of the sentence, and it is followed by the past participle of the main verb.
He visitado tres museos este mes.
In this sentence, the verb “he” is the conjugated form of “haber” in the first person singular “yo”. “Visitado” is the past participle of the main verb “visitar” (to visit).
Present perfect in Spanish (Pretérito perfecto) = Haber + past participle.
Conjugation of haber + examples
|Conjugation of Haber
Yo he visto una película interesante. (I have watched an interesting movie.)
Tú has leído ese libro. (You have read that book.)
|Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You formal)
Él ha aprendido a tocar la guitarra. (He/She/You formal has learned to play the guitar.)
Nosotros hemos visitado muchos países. (We have visited many countries.)
|Vosotros/Vosotras (You all)
Vosotros habéis hablado con el profesor. (You all have spoken with the teacher.)
|Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes (They/You all)
Ellos han hecho un buen trabajo. (They/You all have done a good job.)
Using Past Participle in the Present Perfect Tense
Now that you’ve learned the conjugation of haber in the present perfect tense, you only need the second part of the equation: the past participle.
You can form the regular -ar verbs by removing the -ar ending from the infinitive and adding -ado.
He comprado un regalo para mi hermana.
To form the past participle of regular -er or -ir verbs, take off the -er or -ir ending of the infinitive and add -ido.
Ella ha leído tres libros este mes.
Past Participle conjugation in Present Perfect Spanish
|-AR Verbs (end in -ado)
|-IR/-ER Verbs (end in -ido)
|Cantar (to sing): cantado
|Aprender (to learn): aprendido
|Llegar (to arrive): llegado
|Correr (to run): corrido
|Bailar (to dance): bailado
|Comer (to eat): comido
|Trabajar (to work): trabajado
|Escribir (to write): escrito
|Hablar (to speak): hablado
|Vivir (to live): vivido
It’s as simple as that!
Now, let’s see all of this in action again!
Take a look at both the conjugation of haber in pretérito perfect + the past participle form of the verb!
- Yo he visto esa película tres veces este mes. (I have seen that movie three times this month.)
- Tú has aprendido mucho desde que empezaste a estudiar español. (You have learned a lot since you started studying Spanish.)
- Él ha trabajado en esa empresa durante cinco años. (He has worked at that company for five years.)
- Nosotros hemos visitado varios museos en nuestra última visita a Madrid. (We have visited several museums on our last trip to Madrid.)
- Vosotros habéis conocido a muchas personas interesantes en el evento. (You all have met many interesting people at the event.) -(Vosotros is primarily used in Spain)
- Ellos han ganado el campeonato de fútbol dos veces consecutivas. (They have won the football championship two times in a row.)
3. Conjugation of Spanish Irregular Verbs in Present Perfect
Up until now, it may have seemed that there’s no catch in the present perfect tense in Spanish.
There are some irregular verbs that do not follow the same conjugation rules as regular verbs.
Instead of simply adding -ado or -ido to the infinitive verb to form the past participle, as with regular verbs, irregular verbs end in alternative ways.
Some irregular verbs change their stems, while others change their whole forms.
The most common irregular verbs in the present perfect Spanish are:
Irregular verbs in present perfect Spanish
|Irregular Past Participle
Yo he ido al cine con mis amigos. (I have gone to the movies with my friends.)
Nosotros hemos hecho una gran fiesta. (We have thrown a big party.)
Él ha dicho algo importante. (He has said something important.)
¿Tú has visto esa película? (Have you seen that movie?)
Ellos han puesto las llaves en la mesa. (They have put the keys on the table.)
Yo he abierto la puerta. (I have opened the door.)
Yo he escrito una carta. (I have written a letter.)
Nosotros hemos resuelto el problema. (We have solved the problem.)
Yo he vuelto a casa. (I have returned home.)
Ellos han muerto muchas personas. (Many people have died.)
4. Use the Spanish present perfect tense with trigger words
The Present Perfect tense in Spanish is typically triggered by certain Spanish words and phrases.
Some of these trigger phrases are:
Trigger phrases for Present Perfect Spanish
Hoy he comido en un restaurante nuevo. (Today I have eaten at a new restaurant.)
|todavía no (not yet)
Todavía no hemos recibido los resultados. (We haven’t received the results yet.)
|desde hace (since)
Yo he vivido en esta ciudad durante dos años. (I have lived in this city for two years.)
|hasta ahora (until now)
Hasta ahora no he tenido problemas con el nuevo sistema. (Until now, I haven’t had any issues with the new system.)
Ya he visto esa película. (I have already seen that movie.)
Nunca he estado en México. (I have never been to Mexico.)
|esta semana (this week)
Esta semana hemos trabajado mucho. (This week we have worked a lot.)
|este mes (this month)
Este mes hemos tenido muchas reuniones importantes. (We have had many important meetings this month.)
|este año (this year)
Este año he logrado cumplir muchas metas personales. (This year I have achieved many personal goals.)
So, if you see a phrase that triggers the present perfect tense, you can assume that the sentence is referring to something that started in the past and is still happening now.
5. Practice Section – Use Present Perfect in the correct form!
I. Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the present perfect tense in Spanish.
If you want to practice Present Perfect Spanish, request the Full Practice Worksheet by clicking the button below!
6. Learn and use the present perfect tense with Conversation Based Chunking
Understanding and applying the present perfect tense Spanish can be difficult for many language learners.
However, with the Conversation Based Chunking method, it can be made easier and more engaging!
Instead of focusing on individual words or grammar rules, conversation based chunking breaks down the language into smaller, easily digestible ‘chunks.
This method allows learners to gain a broader understanding of the language and how it functions in native conversation.
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