Spanish Grammar: The Perfect Tenses – Basics

Spanish Grammar: The Perfect Tenses

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Identify:

Spanish Grammar: The Perfect Tenses
la gramática española: los tiempos perfectos

  • The perfect tenses are compound verb tenses with the verb haber.
  • Perfect tenses express what has already taken place.

Study:

Perfect tenses help communicate the idea that an action has already taken place in the past (without using the past tense), or before a moment in the past. Perfect tenses are also known as compound tenses.

The perfect tenses are all compound tenses, which means that there will be TWO verbs in the sentence.

There is a helper (auxiliary) verb, often the verb HABER.
And there is the action that is being expressed – hablar, correr, vivir, etc…

For more information on the verb HABER (and conjugations in all tenses), click here!

The perfect tenses are formed by dropping the infinitive ending and replacing it with a past participle.
(See the past participle lesson for more information!)

-AR verbs : drop the –ar ending and replace it with –ADO
hablar > hablado

-ER verbs : drop the –er ending and replace it with –IDO
comer > comido

-IR verbs : drop the –ir ending and replace it with –IDO
vivir > vivido

Now, we work with the verb HABER.

Present Perfect:

HABER is conjugated in the present tense. The form of HABER is then followed by the verb with the past participle. They cannot be separated.

Past Perfect:

HABER is conjugated in the imperfect past tense. We use the past perfect tense to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another past action.

Future Perfect:

Used to refer to an action that will have taken place in the future. For the future perfect tense, HABER is conjugated in the future tense.

Conditional Perfect:

Used to refer to an action that would have happened, but didn’t. HABER is conjugated in the conditional mood.

Present Perfect Subjunctive:

To refer to an action in the time frame of the present perfect and in a situation that needs to use the subjunctive mood.

Adapt:

¿Qué ha hecho usted?
What have you done?

¿Adónde habrían ido ellos?
Where had they gone?

¿Quién había hecho la tarea?
Who had done the homework?

¿Quién habría dicho esto?
Who would have said that?

¿Por qué ha cocinado la comida así?
Why have you cooked it that way?

¿Cuántos maestros han terminado su papeleo?
How many teachers have finished their paperwork?

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