The Perfect Tenses
The perfect tenses in Spanish are formed with:
Past participles are normally formed by taking the infinitive, dropping off the last two letters, and adding -ado for -ar verbs, or -ido for -er and -ir verbs:
hablar > hablado (spoken), comer > comido (eaten), vivir > vivido (lived)
Second- and third-conjugation verbs whose stems end in a vowel need a written accent mark: leer > leído; oír > oído. Some verbs with irregular past participles include:
abrir abierto opened cubrir cubierto closed, shut decir dicho said, told describir descrito described descubrir descubierto discovered devolver devuelto returned, given back escribir escrito written hacer hecho done, made morir muerto died, dead poner puesto put, placed, set romper roto broken, torn ver visto seen volver vuelto returned
Note: Compound words based on these roots typically show these same irregularities: componer > compuesto; deshacer > deshecho; oponer > opuesto; suponer > supuesto; prever > previsto.
To form the present perfect, use the present tense of haber plus the masculine singular form of the past participle:
he hablado I have spoken has hablado you have spoken ha hablado he/she has spoken hemos hablado we have spoken habéis hablado you have spoken han hablado they have spoken
Yo digo que ella lo ha hecho. I say that she has done it. Ya hemos visto la película. We've already seen the film.
The present perfect may be used to indicate an action or state as having occurred and having been completed prior to the present time. It is used in almost exactly the same way as we use it in English, with two exceptions:
Hace cuatro años que vivo aquí. I have lived (have been living) here for four years.
Acabo de oír la noticia. I just heard the news [item]. Acabamos de poner el televisor. We have just turned on the TV. Note: acabar literally means to finish or to end.
To form the past perfect, use the imperfect of haber plus the masculine singular form of the past participle:
había hablado I had spoken habías hablado you had spoken había hablado he/she had spoken habíamos hablado we had spoken habíais hablado you had spoken habían hablado they had spoken
Juan dijo que había viajado a México. John said that he had traveled to Mexico.
A past-time situation is normally indicated by the preterit and imperfect, for example by dijo in the above example. The past perfect tense (e.g., había viajado) views an action or state as having occurred and been completed at a time prior to another past action, state or time (e.g., dijo). It is used in almost exactly the same way as we use it in English, with the following exceptions:
Hacía cuatro años que vivíamos aquí. We had lived (had been living) here for four years. Trabajaban en el proyecto desde hacía seis horas. They had been working on the project for six hours. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevabas mirando la tele? How long had you been watching TV?
Acababa de oír la noticia. I had just heard the news [item]. Acabábamos de poner el televisor. We had just turned on the TV [set].
To form the future perfect, use the future of haber plus the masculine singular form of the past participle:
habré hablado I will have spoken habrás hablado you will have spoken habrá hablado he/she will have spoken habremos hablado we will have spoken habréis hablado you will have spoken habrán hablado they will have spoken
This tense views an action or state as having occurred and been completed at some time in the future. It is used in almost exactly the same way as we use it in English, for example:
Juan habrá salido para las ocho. Juan will have left by eight o'clock. Todos habrán terminado la composición para mañana. Everyone will have finished their compositions by tomorrow.
As you already know, the future tense can be used to indicate conjecture in present time (that is, to replace the present tense and an equivalent of probably):
Ahora serán las tres. Right now it is probably 3:00.
Similarly, the future perfect tense can be used to indicate conjecture or probability in past time; specifically, it may be used to replace the preterit or present perfect tense and an equivalent of probably:
¿Ese ruido? Habrá sido el gato. That noise? It must have been the cat. Marta ya habrá salido. Martha (has) probably already left.
|Contact: Fred F. Jehle|
|Indiana University - Purdue University Ft. Wayne|
|Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499 USA||