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Perfect Tenses

En España, hoy es miércoles el 26 de julio de 2017.

The “Perfect Tenses” are formed in Spanish just as they are in English: with a form of the auxiliary verb “to have” (haber) plus the past participle.

The past participle of the verb does not change form for gender and number, and remains in the -ado or -ido form. To review the formation of the regular past participles, as well as to see a list of common irregular forms, see this page.

Usage

The perfect tenses are used to convey the idea of an action which has been (or will have been) completed prior to the time of the statement, but the results of that action continue to have an effect at the time of the statement.

Let’s look at the Present Perfect Indicative as an example.

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  • Esto ha sido una sabrosa sesión de trabajo.
  • This has been a tasty work session.

The Present Perfect Indicative is formed by taking a conjugated form of the verb haber in the present indicative:

  Singular Plural
1st he hemos
2nd has habéis
3rd ha han

The form of haber is then followed by the past participle of the verb in question. Eg.,

  • He estudiado. (I have studied.)
  • Has comido (You have eaten.)
  • Ha muerto (He has died.)
  • Hemos escrito la carta. (We have written the letter.)
  • ¿Habéis terminado ya? (Have you all finished yet?)
  • Han llegado (They have arrived.)

In each of these cases, the action of the verb has already been completed, but the results of that action continue into the present. Hence, the “present” part of “present perfect”. The “perfect” part refers to the fact that the action is completed.

Other Perfect Tenses

There are as many perfect tenses in English and in Spanish as there are simple (ie., not compound) tenses. The past participle remains the same in each case, but the tense of haber changes:

Pluperfect Indicative (Pluscuamperfecto de indicativo)

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  • No había pensado en eso.
  • I hadn’t thought of that.

The Pluperfect Indicative is formed with the imperfect indicative of haber:

  Singular Plural
1st había habíamos
2nd habías habíais
3rd había habían

Ej.:

  • Había comido ya. (I had already eaten.)
  • Habían salido ya. (They had already gone.)

Future Perfect (Futuro perfecto de indicativo)

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  • ¿Dónde habré guardado ese tazón?
  • Where might I have put that bowl?
  Singular Plural
1st habré habremos
2nd habrás habréis
3rd habrá habrán

Ej.,

  • Habrás terminado por las ocho. (You will have finished by 8 o’clock.)
  • Habremos limpiado la sala. (We will have cleaned the living room.)

Conditional Perfect (Condicional perfect de indicativo)

  Singular Plural
1st habría habríamos
2nd habrías habríais
3rd habría habrían

Ej.,

  • Juan habría estudiado, pero no tiene el libro de texto (Juan would have studied but he doesn’t have the textbook.)
  • ¿Habríais ido a la fiesta si fuera el sábado? (Would you all have gone to the part if it had been on Saturday?)

Present Perfect Subjuntive (Presente perfecto de subjuntivo)

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  • No puedo creer que el Sr. Rod haya despedido a Bea…
  • I can’t believe that Mr. Rod has fired Bea…
  Singular Plural
1st haya hayamos
2nd hayas hayáis
3rd haya hayan

Ej.,

  • Quiero que hayas limpiado tu cuarto cuando vuelvo. (I want you to have cleaned your room when I get back.)
  • Insiste en que yo haya cortado el césped antes de la fiesta (He insists that I have cut the grass before the party.)

Pluperfect Subjunctive (Pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo)

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2014-10-15 – © Baldo Partners: Hector Cantú & Carlos Castellanos; Universal UClick
  • Si no hubiese sido por esos ladrillos…
  • If it hadn’t been for those bricks…
  Singular Plural
1st hubiera hubiéramos
2nd hubieras hubierais
3rd hubiera hubieran

Ej.,

  • Quería que hubieras puesto gasolina en el coche. (She wanted you to have filled the tank of the car.)
  • Queríamos que hubieran llegado antes de la medianoche. (We wanted them to have arrived before midnight.)

Here are some more examples of the use of the perfect tenses:


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