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The Perfect Tenses - regular & irregular verbs
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  Verb Tenses  
    An introduction to verbs & personal pronouns  
    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
    The present simple tense - regular verbs (I am)  
    The present simple tense - irregular verbs (I am)  
    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
    The past simple tense - irregular verbs (I was)  
    The imperfect tense - all verbs (I used to)  
    The future tense - all verbs (I will be)  
    The continuous tenses (I am going)  
    The perfect tenses - regular and irregular verbs  
    The conditional tense - regular and irregular verbs  
    The present subjunctive tense  
    The past subjunctive tense (If I were to)  
    The infinitive tense (verbs in their original forms - to be)  
    The imperative tense (command verbs - go / stay etc)  
    'Haber' with the conditional and past subjunctive tenses  
  More About Verbs  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 1  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 2  
    The 'Gerund' (the equivalent of forming 'ing...' verbs)  
    'Gustar' and similar verbs - A different way of using verbs  
Spain v Latin America
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    Nouns - Part 2 - (Gender and forming plural nouns)  
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    Adjectives - (Agreement and word order)  
    Adjectives - (Comparative and superlative)  
  All About Pronouns  
    Pronouns - object pronouns (direct / indirect)  
  Adjectives & Pronouns  
    Adjectives and Pronouns (demonstrative)  
    Adjectives and Pronouns (possessive)  
    Adjectives and pronouns (indefinite)  
  All About Adverbs  
    Adverbs - Part 1 - (words ending in -ly in English)  
    Adverbs - Part 2 - (Other forms / making comparisons)  
  Prepositions  
    An introduction to prepositions and relative pronouns  
    Prepositions - A comprehensive list with examples  
  Conjunctions  
    Conjunctions - linking words  
  Questions & Negatives  
    Questions and negatives (question words)  
         

   
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Video Lessons
Summary of Lesson
The perfect tenses explained. What they are and a brief look at how they are formed in both Spanish and English.
A closer look at how ‘haber’ is formed with each personal pronoun in each of the perfect tenses. A complete formation guide of ‘haber’ + past participle for all regular verbs.
How the past participle is formed for irregular verbs.
When do we commonly use the perfect tenses?
When the perfect tenses are used differently in Spanish and English. Looking at the perfect tenses with negatives and other important formation rules.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
Understanding how the verb ‘haber’ is used to express or talk about certain situations that occur both in the present, past and future.
Being able to formulate the past participle for all regular and irregular verbs. (The number of irregular verbs is small!)
Knowing how to correctly conjugate the verb ‘haber’ in the perfect tenses with each of the personal pronouns.
Knowing how to use the perfect tenses in negative sentences.
Knowing when not to use the perfect tenses in Spanish in situations where they might normally be used in English and vise versa.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson looks at what the perfect tenses are. It also gives an overview of how they are formed, looking specifically at regular verbs.

 

The perfect tenses are really a combination of tenses. They can be formed in the present, past and future. The perfect tenses can also be formed with the subjunctive and conditional tenses. These types of verb formations are looked at in more detail in another lesson.

 

Forming perfect tenses

 

haber + past participle
(to have + past participle)

 

                                                            NOT

 

tener
(to have)

 

Perfect tenses are formed by using the auxiliary verb ‘to have’ (haber) with what is known as the past participle of another verb. The majority of verbs in the past participle are regular and are formed in only one of two different ways. We will look at this in just a moment. Depending on whether we are talking in the present, past or future will depend on which form of haber we should use with the past participle.

 

In English to have (haber) is used as follows:


tense personal pronoun to have to eat
present I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they have eaten
past I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they had eaten
future I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they will have eaten

 

 

In Spanish, haber (to have) is used a little differently. Not only does the form of ‘haber’ change in the present, past and future but it also changes when we use it with each personal pronoun, (yo, , él, ella, usted, nosotros, nosotras, vosotros, vosotras, ellos, ellas, ustedes). We will look at each of these different formations in part 2 of the lesson, but first lets look at how the past participle of regular verbs is formed.

 

In English the past participle of regular verbs is formed by adding ‘ed’ to the verb. Look at this example; to talk (hablar).

 

tense personal pronoun to have to talk past participle
present I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they have talk ed
past I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they had talk ed
future I, you, he, she, it, we, you (all), they will have talk ed

 

In Spanish the past participle of regular verbs are formed by replacing the end of the verb with either ‘ido’ or ‘ado’.

 

AR verbs end in  ado

ER and IR verbs end in ido

 

verb remove the ending add the past participle
hablar (to speak) habl ado
caminar (to walk) camin ado
comer (to eat) com ido
beber (to drink) beb ido
vivir (vivir) viv ido
salir (to leave) sal ido

 

In both Spanish and English irregular verbs are formed a little differently. We will look at some of these later. Luckily however, in Spanish, the majority of verbs that are formed with the past participle are regular.

 

PART 2

 

Now lets look at how the verb ‘haber’ (to have), is formed with each personal pronoun and the past participle of verbs in the present past and future.

 

Present perfect tense - formed using the regular AR verb hablar (to speak/talk).

 

personal pronoun haber verb + past participle complete
  (to have)    
yo he habl + ado hablado
has habl + ado hablado
él/ella/usted ha habl + ado hablado
nosotros/nosotras hemos habl + ado hablado
vosotros/vosotras habéis habl + ado hablado
ellos/ellas/ustedes han habl + ado hablado

 

Past perfect tense - formed using the regular ER verb comer (to eat).

 

personal pronoun haber verb + past participle complete
  (to have)    
yo había com + ido comido
habías com + ido comido
él/ella/usted había com + ido comido
nosotros/nosotras habíamos com + ido comido
vosotros/vosotras habíais com + ido comido
ellos/ellas/ustedes habían com + ido comido

 

Future perfect tense - formed using the regular IR verb salir (to leave). This verb is usually irregular!

 

personal pronoun haber verb + past participle complete
  (to have)    
yo habré sal + ido salido
habrás sal + ido salido
él/ella/usted habrá sal + ido salido
nosotros/nosotras habrámos sal + ido salido
vosotros/vosotras habréis sal + ido salido
ellos/ellas/ustedes habrán sal + ido salido

 

Things to note:

 

1)      The past participle is formed in the same way with each personal pronoun in each group.

2)      The past participle is formed in the same way for both ER and IR regular verbs.

3)      The form of ‘haber’ changes with each personal pronoun in all three tenses.

4)      In the past perfect and future perfect tenses the form of ‘haber’ is the same with the personal pronouns ‘yo’ and ‘él/ella/usted’.

5)      Accent marks (tildes), are only used with the vosotros/as personal pronouns in the present perfect tense.

6)      Accent marks (tildes), are used with all personal pronouns in the past perfect tense.

7)      Accent marks (tildes), are used with all personal pronouns in the future perfect tense except with the vosotros/as forms.

 

PART 3

 

Part 3 of the lesson looks a how irregular verbs are formed with the perfect tenses. As already mentioned most verbs in the perfect tenses are regular. Those that are irregular need to be memorized.

 

The formation of irregular verbs with ‘haber’ is the same. The way ‘haber’ changes with each personal pronoun is the same as illustrated in part 2 of the lesson. The only thing that is different is the past participle. Irregular verbs do not take the endings ‘ido’ or ‘ado’.

 

Below are some of the most common irregular verbs in the perfect tenses.

 

ver to see visto seen
poner to put puesto put
hacer to do / make hecho done / made
volver to return vuelto returned
decir to say dicho said
abrir to open abierto opened
romper to break roto broken
oír to hear oído heard
freír to fry frito fried
cubrir to cover cubierto covered
morir to die muerto died
escribir to write escrito written

 

The following examples show how some of these irregular verbs might be used in speech. Notice how the formation of ‘haber’ is the same as for regular verbs and that it is only the past participle that changes.

 

Present perfect

 

(Yo) he visto esa pelicula antes. (I have seen that movie before.)

Ellos ya han abierto sus regalos. (They have already opened their presents.)

Nosotros hemos puesto demasiado encima. (We’ve put too much on top.)

 

Past perfect

 

Él había hecho su mejor. (He had done his best.)

Yo lo había oído una vez antes. (I had heard it once before.)

 

Future perfect

 

Ella habrá muerto antes de que el doctor llegue. (She will have died before the doctor arrives.)

Él habrá escrito el libro en su propio estilo. (He will have written it in his own style.)

 

PART 4

 

The fourth part of the lesson looks at when we commonly use perfect tenses.

 

Present perfect

 

The present perfect tense is used in a very similar way in both Spanish and English. We use it to talk about things that have or haven’t happened up until the point at which we are speaking. We also use it to talk about what has or hasn’t happened during specified periods in the past, such as this week, or this year.

 

(Yo) he terminado mis deberes. (I have finished my chores.)

¿(Tú) has comido tu almuerzo? (Have you eaten your lunch?)

Ellos nunca han estado en Italia. (They have never been to Italy)

Ella ha ganado cien euros esta semana. (She has earnt 100 euros this week.)

 

Past perfect

 

Again, the past perfect tense is used in a similar way in both Spanish and English. We use it to talk about things that happened in the past but more usually things that happened further in the past or previous to something else that happened in the past. The past simple (preterite), tense is more commonly used to talk about things that happened more recently in the past, although not always! Take a look at the lesson on the past simple (preterite), tense for more details.

 

Ellos habían terminado antes de que yo había empezado. (They had finished before I had started.)

Ya yo les había dicho que yo no podía. (I had already told them that I couldn’t.)

Nosotros nunca habíamos estado antes de ayer. (We had never been before yesterday.)

 

Future perfect

 

The future perfect tense is less commonly spoken in both Spanish and English, although in both languages it is used in a similar way. It is used to talk about the future. Commonly it is used to talk about things that haven’t happened yet but will happen in the future, before or after something else will have happened.

 

(Yo) habré terminado en tiempo para ir más tarde. (I will have finished in time to go later.)

Ella habrá cumplido dos exámenes cuando llegue el viernes. (She will have completed two exams by Friday.)

 

PART 5

 

The last part of this lesson looks at when the perfect tenses are used in Spanish but not in English and vise versa and using the perfect tenses with negatives. It also looks at some important formation rules when constructing sentences.

 

As already discussed in part 4 of this lesson the perfect tenses are usually used in the same way in both Spanish and English. Lets look at when this may not be the case and where other tenses may be used in either Spanish or English instead.

 

When talking about the very recent past.

 

¿(Tú) lo has visto? Did you see that?

(Present perfect tense.) (Present simple tense.)

 

¿(Tú) has pagado? Did you pay?

(Present perfect tense.) (Present simple tense.)

 

When using desde, desde hace and hace..que in Spanish.

 

Él está triste desde que su esposa murió.

(Present simple tense.)

He’s been sad since his wife died.

(Present perfect tense.)

 

Él estaba triste desde que su esposa murió

(Imperfect tense.)

He had been sad since his wife died.

(Past perfect tense.)

 

Ella estudia desde hace seis meses.

(Present simple tense.)

She has been studying for six months.

(Present perfect continuous tense.)

 

Ella estudió desde hace seis meses.

(Past simple (preterite), tense.)

She had been studying for six months.

(Past perfect continuous tense.)

 

Hace mucho tiempo que trabajamos juntos.

(Present simple tense.)

We have been working together for a long time.

(Present perfect continuous tense.)

 

Hace mucho tiempo que trabajábamos juntos.

(Imperfect tense.)

We had been working together for a long time.

(Past perfect continuous tense.)

 

Using negatives.

 

In Spanish the word ‘no’ is used in the construction of negative sentences in the perfect tenses. Note that ‘no’ is always placed before the formation of ‘haber’ and the past participle.

 

Él no había dicho nada. (He hadn’t said anything.)

(Yo) no he lavado los platos hoy día. (I haven’t washed the dishes today.)

 

In Spanish the perfect tenses are used in negative sentences with desde, desde hace and hace..que.

 

Él no ha estudiado desde hace seis meses.

(Present perfect tense.)

He hasn’t studied for six months.

(Present perfect tense.)

 

Él no había estudiado desde hace seis meses

(Past perfect tense.)

He hadn’t studied for six months.

(Past perfect tense.)

 

Important formation rules.

 

1)      The past participle always follows immediately after the formation of ‘haber’.

2)      Both ‘haber’ and the past participle must be used together. A sentence cannot contain just ‘haber’ or just the past participle.


That concludes this lesson on the perfect tenses. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

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The Perfect Tenses - regular & irregular verbs
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