The Present Perfect Tense in Spanish, or How I Lost My Wallet (2023)

The Present Perfect Tense in Spanish, or How I Lost My Wallet (1)

By Francisco J. Vare Last updated:

He perdido mi cartera.(I have lost my wallet.)

This simple sentence reveals so much information about what has happened.

If I want to tell you about an action that started recently and is still continuing now, the only way to convey all this information in one sentence is by using the present perfect tense.

I could not have used another tense in order to convey this exact information.

In this post, you will learn everything about the Spanish present perfect tense, including how it is used, how to conjugate it and what words give it away.


  • What Is the Spanish Present Perfect Tense?
  • Conjugating the Present Perfect Tense in Spanish
  • Important Information About the Spanish Present Perfect Tense
  • Words That Trigger the Spanish Present Perfect Tense
    • 1. Hoy (Today)
    • 2.Esta mañana, esta tarde, esta noche (This morning, this afternoon, tonight)
    • 3. Esta semana, este mes, este año (This week, this month, this year)
    • 4. Nunca (Never)
    • 5. Últimamente (Recently, lately)
    • 6. Ya, aún, todavía (Already, yet, still)
    • 7. En mi vida (In my life)
    • 8. X veces (X times)
  • Practicing the Present Perfect Tense

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

What Is the Spanish Present Perfect Tense?

The present perfect tense is used to indicate three main things:

1. Something has happened recently and it has consequences or effects in the present.

2. Something started, happened or started to happen in the past and it continues today (similar to the present perfect continuous in English).

3.Something has happened a certain number of times in your life, or you are expressing whether or not you have done something in your life… In other words, we use it to talk about our life experience so far.

Losing my wallet would be included in the first point. I recently lost my wallet and I still have not found it. Check and check. Present perfect all the way.

One example for point number two could be my job as a language teacher:

He sido profesor de idiomas desde 2002. (I have been a language teacher since 2002.)

This started in 2002 and it still continues today. We have all the ingredients, so we can use the present perfect.

Finally, an example for point number three could be the number of times a person has been married so far:

He oído que se ha casado cinco veces ya. (I have heard he has been married five times already.)

Conjugating the Present Perfect Tense in Spanish

In order to form the present perfect correctly in Spanish, we need two things:

1. The present simple of the verb haber(to have):

yo he (I have)

has (you have)

él/ella ha (he/she has)

nosotros/as hemos (we have)

vosotros/as habéis (you have)

ellos/as han (they have)

2. The past participle of a verb. You can refresh your memory about the Spanish past participle before moving on. I will just give you the two basic rules to form it:

Verbs ending in -ar change their ending into -ado:

cantar cantado (to sing sung)

bailar bailado (to dance danced)

(Video) Unit-07: Present Perfect-1–I have lost my keys / There has been an accident / He has gone to Delhi.

llamar llamado (to call called)

Verbs ending in -er and -ir change their ending into -ido:

comer comido (to eat eaten)

beber bebido (to drink drunk)

partir partido (to break broken)

vivir vivido (to live lived)

Put these two components together and you are ready to use the present perfect in Spanish like a real native speaker:

Hemos comprado una casa. (We have bought a house.)

¿Habéis terminado ya? (Have you finished yet?)

Mateo no ha visto a su primo desde 1998. (Mateo has not seen his cousin since 1998.)

Important Information About the Spanish Present Perfect Tense

There are a couple of small things you should still know before we go on:

1. Never, ever separate haberfrom the past participle. This is one of the main differences between Spanish and English when it comes to the present perfect tense. You simply cannot add any word to the tense and break it apart:

Nunca he bebido alcohol en mi vida. (I have never drunk alcohol in my life.)

Ya he desayunado hoy. (I have already eaten breakfast today.)

2. If you have to deal with pronouns, remember thatpronouns always go before the present perfect, never after it like in English:

Ya les he dicho la verdad. (I have already told them the truth.)

Se los he comprado yo. (I have bought them for him.Emphasis on “I.”)

The Spanish present perfect is really one of what I call “the easy tenses” because it is used in very specific situations, is quite easy to conjugate and its similarities with English are remarkable (have a look at the examples so far if you do not believe me).

Words That Trigger the Spanish Present Perfect Tense

Just like in English, there are some words or expressions that trigger or, at least, like to keep the present perfect company. Learning these words and expressions is also an easy task, but at FluentU we do not just like things made easy, we want them made amazingly.

That is why I have gathered all these words and expressions into a list. We will be covering them in the rest of the post, one by one, each of them including lots of examples.

Every tense has its favorite words and expressions.

The present simple is very often seen with Spanish adverbs like “always,” “sometimes,” “often”or“never.”

The preterite loves “yesterday,” “last”and“ago.”

Our star, the present perfect, also has its preferences. Here are the main ones:

1. Hoy (Today)

One word that is almost always present when using the Spanish present perfect is the wordhoy.

Use hoy when describing all the daily routines you have done during the day, as well as any other action that has taken place since you woke up until now.

Bear in mind that this is somewhat different in English, since you would probably use the simple past for this purpose in English,instead of the present perfect. In Spanish, however, you have to use the present perfect as long as the day is still going on:

Hoy he desayunado cereales con leche. (I ate cereal with milk for breakfast today.)

Me he levantado a las 6 de las mañana hoy. (I got up at 6 a.m. today.)

Hoy ha habido una reunión importante en el trabajo. (There was an important meeting at work today.)

(Video) Learn English Tenses: PRESENT PERFECT

2.Esta mañana, esta tarde, esta noche (This morning, this afternoon, tonight)

Very often, expressions with the demonstratives este/esta/estos/estas trigger the present perfect in Spanish for the same reason thathoy does: because the day is still going on. This is also different in English, where you would use the simple past, but Spanish likes making you learn rules and this is one of them.

When it comes to parts of the day, the three main expressions we will hear are esta mañana, esta tarde and esta noche.

Esta mañana and esta tarde should not be problematic. If, for example, it is nine in the evening and you did something or something happened during the morning or the afternoon, you would just use the appropriate expression:

Esta mañana ha hecho mucho frío. (It was very cold this morning.)

Hemos comprado una pizza esta tarde. (We bought a pizza this afternoon.)

When it comes to esta noche, you have to remember that it can have both a past and a future meaning. It can be set in the future if you plan on doing something later that night, like in this example:

Esta noche iremos al cine. (We are going to the cinema tonight.)

But if it relates to something that has already happened that night, you have to use the present perfect. Remember that we are talking about “this night,” which means we still have not gone to bed and the night is still going on:

He comido mucho esta noche. (It have eaten a lot tonight.)

Hemos visto tres películas esta noche. (We have watched three films tonight.)

If you were to say the same after you woke up the next morning, you would use the preterite and anoche (last night) instead of esta noche:

Anoche comí mucho. (I ate a lot last night.)

Anoche vimos tres películas. (We watched three movies last night.)

3. Esta semana, este mes, este año (This week, this month, this year)

These three time expressions are used very similarly both in English and Spanish.

First of all, they have a demonstrative, which is a clear indication that you are going to need the present perfect.

Secondly, they are perfect for describing what has happened during the last week, month or even year, as long as that week, month or year has not ended yet! Have a look:

Esta semana no he podido trabajar. (I have not been able to work this week. — The week is yet to end.)

As opposed this this one:

La semana pasada no pude trabajar. (I was not able to work last week.— The week has ended, so we use a different time expression and a different tense.)

Here are some more examples:

Este mes he comprado dos coches. (I have bought two cars this month.)

Este año hemos estado en Venecia. (We have been to Venice this year.)

Mi vecino ha tenido un accidente esta mañana. (My neighbor has had an accident this morning.)

4. Nunca (Never)

The adverb nunca is yet another word that very often triggers the present perfect.

We know it can be used in different contexts and it can refer to the past, the present and the future, but when we want to describe personal experiences (or the lack of them) during our lives, we use it with the present perfect.

A lot of my students ask me why we have to use the present perfect when talking about life experiences. The answer is very simple: You should know by now that we use this tense when something started in the past and continues until today. When we are born, our lives start and as long as we are still alive, they keep on going, hence the use of this tense:

Nunca he estado en Estados Unidos. (I have never been to America.)

No hemos visto esa película nunca. (We have never watched that movie.)

Nunca has comido pizza con piña. (You have never eaten pizza with pineapple.)

5. Últimamente (Recently, lately)

We normally use últimamente in order to talk about things that have happened lately or we have done recently:

(Video) Part- 24/ Present perfect tense- ክፍሊ- 24-ፍጹም ህሉው ግሲ

No he visto a tu hermano últimamente. (I have not seen your brother lately.)

¿Has estudiado español últimamente? (Have you studied Spanish lately?)

If an action has been happening for some time lately, we can add a present participle to the present perfect of estar (this is what we call present perfect progressive in English):

Últimamente he estado leyendo mucho. (I have been reading a lot lately.)

No hemos estado viajando mucho últimamente. (We have not been traveling a lot lately.)

Ellos han estado trabajando últimamente. (They have been working lately.)

6. Ya, aún, todavía (Already, yet, still)

Just as with the English “already,” “yet”and “still,” the adverbs ya, aún and todavía are very closely related to the present perfect tense in Spanish.

Yes, there will be millions of examples of these three words together with other tenses…

Ya estoy aquí. (I am already here.)

Aún lo sigue buscando. (He is still looking for it.)

Todavía no estamos preparados. (We are not ready yet.)

…but the present perfect is definitely their favorite.

Ya, aún and todavía may be a little haunting at the beginning of your Spanish learning journey, but practice makes perfect. Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and write down some sentences with them in this tense!

Here are some examples to get you started:

Ya hemos llegado a casa. (We have already arrived home.)

Dile a mi primo que ya he recibido su postal. (Tell my cousin I have already received his postcard.)

Aún no han llamado desde la oficina. (They have not called from the office yet.)

No he decidido qué hacer aún. (I have not decided what to do yet.)

Todavía no me ha dicho la verdad. (He has not told me the truth yet.)

No hemos pagado las facturas todavía. (We have not paid the bills yet.)

One thing to remember: it is aúnwith an accent that means “yet.” Without the accent, the wordaunmeans “even” and although it is not a word that is used often, this is still something to keep in mind!

7. En mi vida (In my life)

Withnunca, you learned how to say you have never ever done something.

The phrase en mi vida is also used to talk about life experiences, but it can have both a positive and a negative meaning. In other words, you can say you have done something a lot of times in your life (positive meaning) or never in your life (negative meaning).

This expression is used very often in informal situations with friends and family. Whenever you have the chance, give it a go!

Here are some examples about me:

He vivido en seis países en mi vida. (I have lived in six countries in my life.)

En mi vida he visto Titanic siete veces. (I have seen Titanic seven times in my life.)

Nunca en mi vida he estado en África. (I have never been to Africa in my life.)

No he comido carne de caballo en mi vida. (I have never eaten horse meat in my life.)

One curious thing about en mi vida is that it can “absorb” the meaning of “never,”rendering the negative adverb unnecessary. This use of en mi vida is rather informal, but it paradoxically makes the negation even stronger than if you used “never”:

(Video) Mixed verb tenses Explained and Exercises

En mi vida he comido marisco. (I have never eaten seafood in my life. — …And I do not plan to.)

En mi vida he hablado con él. (I have never talked to him in my life. — …And how dare you think otherwise?)

8. X veces (X times)

This last expression is actually related to the previous one, because when you say you have done something a specific amount of times, you are normally referring to doing it in your life.

However, this can also be used together with almost any expression from this post. Have a look:

Hoy he desayunado dos veces. (I have eaten breakfast twice today.)

Esta mañana he visto a María cuatro veces. (I have seen María four times this morning.)

Habéis mentido tres veces esta tarde. (You have lied three times this afternoon.)

Me he despertado varias veces esta noche. (I have woken up several times tonight.)

Nunca he visto la misma película más de dos veces. (I have never seen the same movie more than twice.)

Últimamente hemos viajado a París cinco veces. (We have traveled to Paris five times lately.)

Ya te lo he dicho tres veces. (I have already told you three times.)

Has estado en México dos veces en tu vida. (You have been to Mexico twice in your life.)

As you can see, the present perfect tense is very often similar in Spanish and in English, so it should not be too new to you. Learning the words and expressions that trigger it is super helpful, especially in the beginning.

Practicing the Present Perfect Tense

If you want the present perfect tense to become second nature, you’ll need to get some practice using it and hearing how it’s used.

You can get some practice in the present perfect tense by doing exercises (there’s one at the end of this post!), talking with a language partner or using language learning apps.

Language learning apps like FluentU let you check out specific lessons based on your learning level and topic, making it easier to work on whatever skill or concept you need to practice.

FluentU teaches you Spanish using native media like movie trailers, music videos and TV clips.

This app immerses you in the language and teaches you how real native speakers actually use Spanish words and grammar (like the present perfect tense), all in the context of engaging videos, so you’ll remember what you learned.

Once you get a feel for how the present perfect shows up in various contexts, you’ll get better at using it in your own conversations.

The present perfect is an easy tense that we use every day in lots of contexts and situations. Add it to your “Spanish lore” and make your friends go “woah!”with your perfect use if it!

Stay curious and…

Oh, wait! I promised you that by the end of this post you would know if I have found my wallet or not.

If you really want to know, here is what you have to do: The following words form a grammatically correct sentence in Spanish when rearranged correctly. Use your Sherlock Homes skills and all that you have learned in this post to get the answer:

en | buscando | y | mi | finalmente | el | cartera | he | la | encontrado | estado | cajón | calcetines | los | de | he

And now, of course, stay curious and happy learning!

(Need some help? Here is the solution:

He estado buscando mi cartera y finalmente la he encontrado en el cajón de los calcetines. —I have been looking for my wallet and I have finally found it in the sock drawer.

How did you do?)

(Video) The Present Perfect Tense | Level Up English Live Lesson #7

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What is the present perfect tense in Spanish examples? ›

Just as in English, the present perfect is a compound tense. Spanish uses the auxiliary verb haber (“to have”) plus the past participle (called the “participio”) of the main verb to form the present perfect. He comido en ese restaurante antes. I have eaten at that restaurant before.

What is present perfect tense answer? ›

The present perfect tense is an English verb tense used for past actions that are related to or continue into the present. It's easily recognized by the auxiliary verbs (or helper verbs) have and has, as in, “I have gone fishing since I was a child.”

What is the present perfect tense used for in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, the present perfect tense is formed by the present tense of haber followed by the past participle. (In English it's the present tense of "to have" followed by the past participle.) It generally indicates that an action has been completed that has some bearing on the present.

What tense is the perfect tense in Spanish? ›

There are two parts to the perfect tense . The first part is the present tense of the verb haber and the second part is the past participle . The past participle usually ends in -ed in English, eg watched, played, visited.
The perfect tense - formation.
present tense of haber
2 more rows

What is the use of present perfect tense and give 5 examples? ›

Have worked: I have worked here since I graduated school. Has done: He has finished his homework. Have been: We have been to Canada. Has forgotten: She has forgotten her folder.

What is the present perfect tense and give 3 example? ›

Examples of the Present Perfect Tense

We have worked as teachers for two years. He has worked as a teacher for two years. She has worked as a teacher for two years. They have worked as teachers for two years.

What is present tense Give 5 example? ›

The singer is singing nicely. The program is going on smoothly. Alice prefers coffee to tea. Alana attends the class every day.

What are the 10 examples of present perfect continuous tense? ›

Formula and Structure of the Present Perfect Continuous Tense
  • I have been working on this project for a week.
  • You have been working on this project for a week.
  • He has been working on this project for a week.
  • She has been working on this project for a week.
  • They have been working on this project for a week.

What are the 3 Uses of present perfect? ›

We use the present perfect to describe a recent action or ask if something has happened recently. It's often used with words like just, already, yet, still. We often use the present perfect in this case when some action or situation has an effect on the present.

What are the 3 types of present tense verbs in Spanish? ›

Present tense -AR verbs

In Spanish, verbs are divided into three categories for all tenses: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs. The -ar, -er, and -ir refer to the unconjugated infinitive ending of the verb. Examples of each are hablar (to speak), comer (to eat), and vivir (to live).

What does perfect tense mean in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, as in English, the perfect tense is a verb form used to talk about what has or hasn't happened; for example, I've broken my glasses; We haven't spoken about it. He terminado el libro. I've finished the book. ¿Has fregado el suelo? Have you washed the floor?

What are the 3 perfect tense? ›

The 'perfect' tenses (present perfect, past perfect and future perfect) are usually used to talk about actions that are completed by the present or a particular point in the past or future.

What is simple present perfect tense with examples? ›

The present perfect tense is a tense used in present to indicate the action that has taken place at some specific time. It uses auxiliary verb and past participle for the main verb i.e. verb + ed. Some examples of present perfect tense are – I have watched this movie before, He has completed his homework.

How do you translate the perfect tense? ›

The perfect tense relates past, completed action. It differs from the imperfect in that the imperfect relates ongoing, repeated, or continuous action. For this reason, the perfect is translated as "I have praised", "I did praise, or simply "I praised".

What are the 2 main uses of present perfect? ›

Present Perfect: Uses
  • Actions which started in the past and are still continuing. ...
  • Actions (single action or repeated actions) which happened at some unknown time in the past. ...
  • Actions which happened in the past, but have an effect in the present.

What are 2 examples simple past and present perfect tense? ›

Present Perfect and Simple Past Verb Tenses
  • Jackson ate lunch early. (Simple Past: Eating lunch has started and ended in the past. ...
  • Jackson has eaten lunch. (Present Perfect: Jackson started and finished eating lunch in the past, but lunch time is still going on.

What are the 4 situations we use the present perfect in? ›

Resources for learning English
  • An action or situation that started in the past and continues in the present. ...
  • An action performed during a period that has not yet finished. ...
  • A repeated action in an unspecified period between the past and now. ...
  • An action that was completed in the very recent past, expressed by 'just'.

What are the 20 examples of simple present tense? ›

20 Sentences in Simple Present Tense
  • I go to the President's House.
  • Sun rises in the East.
  • He takes a bath once a month.
  • She takes selfies.
  • They take the bribe.
  • We speak lie.
  • It rains every day in Assam.
  • You eat Pizza every weekend.

What are the 10 examples of simple present tense? ›

Simple Present Tense Examples Used to Denote Habitual Actions.
  • Raj eats bread and butter before going to school.
  • Emma watches cartoons every day.
  • Izzy drinks milk every night before going to bed.
  • Johnny goes to the gym daily.
  • We go to school daily.
  • Derek smokes.
  • Smita reads the newspaper every day.

What is a perfect tense verb example? ›

Perfect verb tense is used to show an action that is complete and finished, or perfected. This tense is expressed by adding one of the auxiliary verbs — have, has, or had — to the past participle form of the main verb. For example: I have seen the movie that was nominated for an Academy Award.

What is the rule of present perfect continuous give an example? ›

Present Perfect Continuous for past action continuing now

We use the Present Perfect Continuous tense to talk about action that started in the past and is continuing now. This is often used with for or since. I have been reading for 2 hours.

How do you explain present perfect and simple continuous? ›

We use the present perfect simple with action verbs to emphasise the completion of an event in the recent past. We use the present perfect continuous to talk about ongoing events or activities which started at a time in the past and are still continuing up until now.

What is a present perfect question? ›

The present perfect (simple) connects the past with the present. We use present perfect questions to ask about recent events that are news. 'Have you heard the news about Mike?

How long is present perfect? ›

We use the question form How long …? to ask about the period of time an activity has continued for. We can reply with for + the period of time … 'How long have you known Maya? ' 'For six years.

What are the 7 most used verbs in Spanish? ›

The top 12 most common Spanish verbs you'll want to learn are:
  • Hacer = To do or make.
  • Ir = To go.
  • Venir = To come.
  • Decir = To say or tell.
  • Poder = To be able.
  • Dar = To give.
  • Ver = To see.
  • Saber = To know.

What are the 4 types of present tense with examples? ›

There are four main types or form of present tense in the English language namely,
  • Simple Present Tense.
  • Present Continuous Tense.
  • Present Perfect Tense.
  • Present Perfect Continuous Tense.

What are the 7 simple tenses in Spanish? ›

The following are the simple tenses and their uses:
  • Present (presente)
  • Imperfect (pretérito imperfecto)
  • Preterite (pretérito indefinido)
  • Future (futuro simple or futuro imperfecto)
  • Simple conditional (condicional simple or pospretérito)
  • Present perfect (pretérito perfecto)

What is the difference between present and present perfect in Spanish? ›

The present tense is used for repeated and continuing actions that happen at the moment of speaking, while the perfect is used when the action is completed but the time period is ongoing.

How do you use past perfect tense in Spanish? ›

Past perfect Spanish requires you to use the verb haber (to have) and conjugate it in the imperfect tense as an auxiliary verb, and then add the necessary past participle of the action verb. This gives us the following formula: subject + haber in the imperfect + action verb in its participle (-ado/-ido)

What is the perfect and imperfect tense in Spanish? ›

The perfect tense ( he hecho) is used for past events which have just happened and are relevant to the speaker in the present. The imperfect tense (hablaba/comia/dormia) is used for past events which were repeated and are relevant to the speaker in the present.

Why is perfect tense hard? ›

It's probably the most difficult tense to understand in English because it can be used in several different ways and it is not easy into translate to other languages because the equivalent tense is often not used in the same way.

Why is perfect tense called perfect? ›

It comes from the Latin word perfectum, which means “complete.” The most important thing to remember is the perfect tenses always refer to completed actions.

What are the 6 perfect tenses? ›

The English perfect tenses (present perfect, present perfect progressive/continuous, past perfect, past perfect progressive/continuous, future perfect, & future perfect progressive/continuous) are all used to make connections in time.

What is perfect tense with examples? ›

Perfect tense talks about those actions that are already done/completed in the time while we are speaking about them. For example, “Ira had gone to the movies.” Here, 'had gone' refers that Ira already went to the movies in the past, and the action is already completed while we are speaking about it.

What are the 4 perfect tenses in Spanish? ›

Perfect Tenses in Spanish
  • The Present Perfect Tense.
  • The Pluperfect Tense.
  • The Future Perfect Tense.
  • The Conditional Perfect.
  • The Present Perfect Subjunctive.
  • The Pluperfect Subjunctive.
  • The Perfect Infinitive.

What are 5 examples of present? ›

  • He goes to school every morning.
  • She understands English.
  • It mixes the sand and the water.
  • He tries very hard.
  • She enjoys playing the piano.

What are the 3 perfect tenses? ›

The 'perfect' tenses (present perfect, past perfect and future perfect) are usually used to talk about actions that are completed by the present or a particular point in the past or future.

What are the 2 uses of present perfect continuous? ›

We use the present perfect continuous to talk about repeated activities which started at a particular time in the past and are still continuing up until now: I've been going to Spain on holiday every year since 1987. I haven't been eating much lunch lately. I've been going to the gym at lunchtimes.

What are the 7 Spanish tenses? ›

The following are the simple tenses and their uses:
  • Present (presente)
  • Imperfect (pretérito imperfecto)
  • Preterite (pretérito indefinido)
  • Future (futuro simple or futuro imperfecto)
  • Simple conditional (condicional simple or pospretérito)
  • Present perfect (pretérito perfecto)

What are the 14 Spanish tenses? ›

In total, there are 14 (7 simple and 7 compound): Present, Imperfect, Preterite, Future, Conditional, Present Perfect, Pluperfect, Preterit Perfect, Future Perfect, Conditional Perfect, Present Subjunctive, Imperfect Subjunctive, Present Perfect Subjunctive, and Pluperfect Subjunctive.


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