The present perfect (el pretérito perfecto) is a combination of the past participle and the present indicative of the verb haber. The present perfect describes an action that happened in the past and continues or repeats into the present or an action that happened in the recent past. It is commonly translated as what a person has done. This form is very widely used in Spain, while in Latin and South America, the preterite is used more often.

Present Perfect

The present perfect describes what a person has done, but notice that tener is not used even though it means to have. It is formed by combining haber (conjugated to the subject of the sentence) and the past participle.

Present Perfect Formula

present indicative haber + past participle

  • He visto las montañas de Perú. (I have seen the mountains of Perú.)
  • Has ido a Colombia. (You have been gone to Colombia.)
  • Usted ha escrito un poema bonito. (You have written a pretty poem.)
  • Él ha dormido 10 horas. (He has slept 10 hours.)
  • Ella ha dicho que es una princesa. (She has said that she is a princess.)
  • Hemos vuelto para comprar la leche. (We have returned to buy milk.)
  • Habéis cantado muy bien. (You have sung very well.)
  • Ustedes han hecho un pastel delicioso. (You have made a delicious cake.)
  • Ellos han bailado en 12 países. (They have danced in 12 countries.)
  • Ellas han oído la verdad. (They have heard the truth.)

The auxiliary verb (haber) and the past participle are never separated. If object pronouns are present, they go immediately before haber.

  • ¿Los has visto? (Have you seen them?)
  • Se las he dado. (I have given them to her.)

Present Perfect Uses

The present perfect is used to express the idea of what a person has done at some point in the past.

The present perfect is NOT used:

to indicate an action still in progress. (The present tense is used to do this.)

  • Hace tres años que vivo aquí. (I have lived here for three years.)

to express the idea to have just done something. (It is more common to use the verb acabar + de to convey this idea.)

  • Acabé de leer este libro. (I have just finished reading this book.)

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