Perfect or Preterite?


In the following examples, which is the correct tense?

Esta mañana, he visto a mi vecino

Esta mañana vi a mi vecino

Esta mes he ido a Madrid.

Esta mes fui a Madrid.

My college teacher (she is Spanish and local to my area of Andalucía) insists that when the word 'this' appears in such a sentence, the correct tense to use is the perfect, and that if saying 'last week, month etc' one should use the preterite. I told the lady from a local store that i saw her 'this morning' using the preterite and she corrected me saying the correct form is the perfect tense.

Since then I have seen many occasions when this 'rule' is not followed. Could this be an Andalucían way of doing things or is there more to it than that. Any help will be appreciated

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by aeroplod

5 Answers


I think you should definately use Perfect because you are talking about action in the past which is close to the moment of speaking (esta mañana, esta mes...)

Here is a quotation from my book for Spanish:

Pretérito perfecto es el pasado del presente. Expresa una acción pasada que el hablante siente cercana al momento presente.

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by luz_72

Here, in part, is what our reference pages have to say about these tenses:


Preterite Simple Past
- The preterit tense (el pretérito) is one of several past tenses in Spanish and it is used to describe actions completed at one point in the past or that lasted a specific amount of time in the past and are now completed.


Present Perfect Compound Past
- The present perfect (el pretérito perfecto) is a combination of the past participle (of the principal verb) 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.


Based on these directions in our own reference pages, I would have to conclude that the Present Perfect is the correct tense to use under the circumstances you have described. Your examples meet this direction “an action that happened in the recent past” found at the end of the explanation of the Present Perfect.

For these reasons, I support the reply from Luz72, but am not in agreement with the reply of Nuxita. I have voted up Luz’ reply.

updated NOV 8, 2016
posted by Moe

Thanks to all for your replies. I do feel happier now about the subject!

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by aeroplod

In my experience, the use of the perfect in the contexts you've mentioned is more common among native speakers from Spain. I'm not intimately familiar with South American Spanish, but it would be strange to hear this kind of sentence construction from, say, a Mexican Spanish-speaker. When I hear it, I almost always assume the person using it is Spanish.

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by nuxita
Thanks Nuxita. It may be common but is it wrong to use preterite with 'this...'? My local ferretera thinks so!
Honestly, I think both are "correct," although where you are right now, one is accepted convention and the other is not, if that makes sense. I'm sure the RAE would have something different to say, though ;)

I am a beginner, but I think the perfect could be used. In essence, what you are saying is 'I saw my neighbor before now'.

In English we can do the same thing. I have seen that movie (at least once before now).

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by h1deaway
Thanks for that - it seems odd though to use the perfect for times possibly way back in the past. Is it wrong to use the preterite with 'this week' etc?