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The Present Perfect Indicative in Spanish

The present perfect indicative or preterite perfect indicative in Spanish grammar is the first past tense a student learns at Due to its easy conjugation, it is a good way to start expressing past actions and experiences.

What Does Its Name Mean?

In order to understand this verb tense, we must consider its name. Its full name in Spanish is pretérito perfecto compuesto de indicativo. It is preterite, that is, it indicates an action located in the past; at the same time it is perfect, that is, it expresses a completed action; moreover, it is compound, so it is formed by more than one word: an auxiliary verb and a main verb; finally, it is indicative, therefore, it expresses real actions, facts, information… Let’s see how it is formed.

How is the Present Perfect Indicative Formed in Spanish?

Como hemos dicho anteriormente, para formar el pretérito perfecto de indicativo en español, debemos utilizar dos formas verbales: un verbo auxiliar, el verbo haber en el presente de indicativo, y un verbo principal, en el participio. Esta forma no personal de los verbos se construye añadiendo las terminaciones -ado (para la primera conjugación -ar) e -ido (para la segunda y tercera conjugación -er / -ir). Veamos una tabla de conjugación:

As we have said before, to form the present perfect indicative in Spanish, we must use two verb forms: an auxiliary verb, the verb haber in the present indicative, and a main verb, in the participle. This non-personal form of verbs is constructed by adding the endings -ado (for the first conjugation -ar) and -ido (for the second and third conjugation -er / -ir). Let’s read this conjugation table:

Table with the conjugation of the present perfect indicative in Spanish

As we can see, the conjugation of this verb tense is really easy. The only difficulty is in the irregular participles of some verbs. Here you can find some of these irregular participles.

Participios irregulares en español

How is the Present Perfect Indicative used in Spanish?

As we mentioned before, the present perfect indicative in Spanish expresses actions in the past. But it has some very specific uses. Let’s take a look at them:

Unfinished Period of Time

These actions, although they are in the past, are included in an unfinished period of time:

Hoy he estudiado el pretérito perfecto en mi clase de español para diferentes niveles.

This person has studied today, that is, in an unfinished period of time because today is still active. Even the speaker can study more during that day.

For this usage, we usually include time expressions that reinforce the idea of “an unfinished time”: hoy, esta semana, este año…



Expressing the Recent Past with the Present Perfect Indicative in Spanish

We can also use this tense to talk about actions located in the recent past:

Ya he terminado mis deberes.

This person finished his or her homework shortly before saying that sentence, therefore, the time period in which the action is situated is not finished either.

Actions with no time markers

In addition, we commonly use the present perfect indicative in Spanish to talk about actions without a time marker or to ask about an action that we don’t know when it happened.

– ¿Has oído la noticia del examen DELE?

– Sí, han cambiado el examen DELE A2.

The first speaker asks if his interlocutor knows something about a news item, but logically, he cannot know when he heard it, so he asks. The second speaker answers yes, confirming the news, but does not indicate when he or she heard the information.

Expressing experiences in a person’s life

Finalmente, vamos a ver uno de los usos más importantes. El pretérito perfecto de indicativo en español puede expresar una experiencia que el hablante ha tenido (o no) a lo largo de su vida.

Finally, let’s look at one of the most important uses. The present perfect indicative in Spanish can express an experience that the speaker has had (or not) throughout his or her life.

He estado en España tres veces.

When we use it in this sense, this verb tense is usually accompanied by expressions that reinforce the idea that it is an experience in your life: nunca, una vez, dos veces, ya, todavía….

– ¿Has reservado ya clases de conversación en Spanisviaskype?

– No, todavía no las he reservado, pero voy a hacerlo ahora mismo.

In short, the present perfect indicative is the best option to start learning the past tenses. If you want to practice in a real class, don’t hesitate and reserve a trial class on Spanishviaskype: nunca ‘has tenido una experiencia’.

Infography of the present perfect indicative in Spanish