Let’s look at the present perfect in English first: I have read that book. I have lived here for five years. “Perfect” means “complete.” All perfect tenses are by definition, therefore, past tenses. So what’s the difference between “I have read that book.” And simply “I read that book”? The difference in this case is how we view the action. If we say, “I have (or “I’ve”) read that book,” we see it as complete but having influence on the present. We might want to discuss it. “I read that book” means that it’s over and done with. The second sentence is a little easier to explain: I have lived here for five years. That means not only have I inhabited this place for the past five years but also that I continue to live here. Sometimes the present perfect means that the action is complete but still going on in the present, and sometimes it means that the action still has influence on the present. I ate five candy bars.—Action completed. I’ve eaten five candy bars. -- . . . And maybe I’ll eat some more! -- Action may continue. or . . . And that’s why my stomach hurts. -- Influence on the present
The past perfect is easier to explain, but we don’t always use it when we should. The past perfect (also called “pluperfect”) is the past of the past. Juan had already eaten when we arrived. Both actions (“eaten” and “arrived”) are in the past. But the eating happened before the arriving. So “arrived” is past, and “had eaten” is the past of that—the past of the past.
Past Participle All perfect tenses are made up of two parts: the helping verb and the past participle of the main verb: helping verbpast participlehelping verbpast participle He haseaten. We haveseen. They haveleft. You havefinished. I havestudied. She hasfallen.
This is how you form the past participle in Spanish: Drop the –ar and add –ado: hablar hablado nadar nadado pensar pensado almorzar almorzado llegar llegado estar estado Drop the –er or –ir and add –ido: comer comido poder podido leer leído querer querido asistir asistido venir venido
There are, of course, irregular past participles in Spanish as there are in English. call have called jump have jumped look have looked eat have eated???? have eaten bring have bringed???? have brought
You have to memorize the irregular past participles in Spanish just as you do in English. volver vuelto (NOT volvido) poner puesto (NOT ponido) abrir abierto etc. cubrir cubierto escribir escrito ver visto morir muerto decir dicho hacer hecho romper roto
Helping Verb Now you need a helping verb to go with your past participles. What we use is the present tense of the verb “haber.” he hablado hemos hablado has hablado habéis hablado ha hablado han hablado Use these verb forms with all your past participles: he comido, has querido, ha vuelto, hemos trabajado, etc.
Pluperfect(Past Perfect)(Pluscuamperfecto) The past perfect (also called the pluperfect and, in Spanish, the pluscuamperfecto), remember, is the past of the past and translates with “had” in English. ALL perfect tenses get a helping verb and a past participle: present perfect he haseaten past perfect he hadeaten future perfect he will haveeaten conditional perfect he would haveeaten
As you saw, the present perfect tense has a set of helping verbs that come from “haber”: he hemos has habéis ha han The same is true of the past perfect. The helping verbs for the past perfect are the imperfect form of “haber”: había hablado habíamos hablado habías hablado habíais hablado había hablado habían hablado
Note that the endings on “haber” for the past perfect are the endings for the imperfect tense: había habíamos habías habíais había habían The present perfect is the PRESENT tense of “haber” + the past participle. The past perfect tense is the IMPERFECT (PAST) tense of “haber” + the past participle. Guess what the future perfect tense is composed of. But that’s another lesson.