Introduction to the perfect tense in Spanish
The perfect tense in Spanish is roughly the equivalent to English forms such as have taken, have bought, have arrived etc. That is, it generally expresses a past action that has relevance to the present moment.
Note that unlike some other languages such as French and Italian, the Spanish perfect tense isn't used as 'narrative' past tense. In other words, it isn't generally used like simple past English forms such as ate, went, arrived etc.
On this page, we'll begin by looking at singualr forms (yo, tú, él/ella/usted) of the perfect tense; on the next page, you'll be able to practise these forms.
How to form the perfect tense
In English, the perfect tense consists of two words: the verb have, sometimes called an auxiliary verb, plus a past participle (a form ending in -ed or -en, e.g. walked, arrived, taken, eaten).
The perfect tense is formed in a very similar in Spanish: a form of the verb haber (to have...) is used, followed by the past participle of the Spanish verb. In Spanish, most past participles end in -ado or -ido (although there are a few notable exceptions).
The verb haber
For now, we'll just look at the singular forms. The singular forms of the verb haber (to have) look as follows:
Note that haber means to have only in the sense of to have ...ed/...en, in other words when combined with a past participle. The verb for have as in have got is tener (tengo un hermano = I've got a brother).
Practise the perfect tense
On the next page, you can practise the singular forms of the perfect tense.