A Quick Grammar Guide to Present Perfect Irregulars in Spanish
Have you come across present perfect irregulars in your Spanish classes?
Do you know which verbs have present perfect irregulars? Do you know the rules for this group of irregular verb forms?
If you want to know the answers, read on. I’ll reveal all the secrets about present perfect irregulars and tell you how to distinguish them from adjectives. You’ll also have an opportunity to practice your new knowledge with a few exercises.
A Quick Refresher on Present Perfect
English speakers who study Spanish love the present perfect tense. Why? Because it works just the same way as in English. You form it in a similar way and use it for the same things. What’s not to love? Let’s take a closer look.
How to Form the Present Perfect
In English, the formula is: “have” + past participle of the main verb. In Spanish, it works the same way:
Auxiliary verb haber + past participle of the main verb
Yo he hablado.
I have spoken.
Nosotros hemos bailado.
We have danced.
To form sentences in the present perfect tense, you need to know how to conjugate the verb haber and how to construct past participle forms.
How to Conjugate the Auxiliary Verb haber
|Yo he||I have|
|Tú has||You have|
|Él, ella, usted ha||She, he, it has (fml. You have)|
|Nosotros hemos||We have|
|Ustedes han||You have|
|Ellos, ellas han||They have|
Remember that the letter h is silent in Spanish; don’t pronounce it.
How to Create Regular Past Participle Forms
Past participles are verb forms that can function as an adjective (I’ll tell you more about that later) or as part of perfect tenses.
The past participles in Spanish end in -ado for -ar conjugations and -ido for both -ar and -ir conjugations. They are easy to form. Just take off the infinitive ending, -ar, -er, or –ir, and add the past participle ending -ado or -ido.
Amar (to love) – amado (loved)
Vivir (to love) – vivido (lived)
Comer (to eat) – comido (eaten)
Yo siempre he amado solo una persona.
I have always loved only one person.
Hemos bebido mucho jugo en las últimas dos horas.
We have drunk lots of juice over the last two hours.
Ellos han vivido aquí toda la vida.
They have lived here all their life.
Easy, isn’t it?
When to Use Present Perfect in Spanish
Just like in English, you use present perfect in Spanish to talk about actions, events, and states that started in the past and continue in the present.
He jugado fútbol todos los martes desde 2005.
I have played soccer every Tuesday since 2005.
He vivido aquí por muchos años.
I have lived here for many years.
We also use it to talk about the recent past, although it’s more common in Spain than in Latin America.
He comprado pan y mantequilla.
I have bought bread and butter.
Present Perfect Irregulars
You have surely discovered by now that all Spanish tenses have their irregularities. Let’s talk about present perfect irregulars.
In Spanish, only the -ir conjugation has present perfect irregulars. They don’t follow the -ido rules but are… irregular.
I’ll divide them into two groups, to make them easier to remember.
1. Accented Past Participle Forms
Some -er and -ir verbs whose stem (the part that stays after removing the infinite ending) ends in a vowel have an accent mark over the letter i in the past participle forms.
Here are some examples.
|atraer – atraído||to attract – attracted|
|caer – caído||to fall – fallen|
|creer – creído||to believe – believed|
|leer – leído||to read – read|
|oir – oído||to hear – heard|
|poseer – poseído||to possess – possessed|
|reír – reído||to laugh – laughed|
|sonreír – sonreído||to smile – smiled|
|traer – traído||to bring – brought|
No me has traído tus documentos.
You haven’t brought me your documents.
¡He leído toda la serie!
I have read the whole series.
Note that verbs ending in -uir never have an accented i in their past participle form.
construir (to build) – construido
fluir (to flow) – fluido
destruir (to destroy) – destruido
Mi tío ha construido la mayoría de estas casas.
My uncle has built most of these houses.
La tormenta ha destruido un buen pedazo de la playa.
The storm has destroyed a big chunk of the beach.
2. Irregular Past Participles
Still, there are many present perfect irregulars that follow no rules, and you’ll have to learn them by heart. Don’t worry, the more you’ll use them, the more natural they will sound.
|abrir – abierto||to open – opened|
|absolver – absuelto||to absolve – absolved|
|cubrir – cubierto||to cover – covered|
|decir – dicho||to say – said|
|escribir – escrito||to write – written|
|hacer – hecho||to do – done|
|morir – muerto||to die – died|
|poner – puesto||to put – put|
|resolver – resuelto||to solve – solved|
|romper – roto||to break – broken|
|satisfacer – satisfecho||to satisfy – satisfied|
|ver – visto||to see – seen|
|volver – vuelto||to return – returned|
Los alumnos han vuelto a las escuelas después de las vacaciones.
Tbe students have returned to school after the holidays.
Han hecho la tarea?
Have you done your homework?
Ya he visto esta película.
I have seen this movie.
All the above verbs can be used with prefixes and maintain their present perfect irregular forms.
descubrir (to discover) – descubierto (discovered)
revolver (to scramble) – revuelto (scrambled)
deshacer (to undo) – deshecho (undone)
He descubierto un gran secreto, ¿te lo digo?
I have discovered a big secret, shall I tell you?
Bonus: Past Participle or Adjective?
Some time ago, many verbs in Spanish had two past participle forms: a regular and an irregular one. Today, the irregular forms of these verbs are considered adjectives, and the regular ones are past participle forms.
Do you want to see some of them?
Atender – to attend
adjective: atento (attentive)
past participle: atendido (attended)
Hay que estar atento en clase.
You have to be attentive in class.
He atendido muchas conferencias últimamente.
I have attended many conferences lately.
Bendecir – to bless
adjective: bendito (blessed, holy)
past participle: bendecido (blessed)
Aquí hace falta el agua bendita.
Here we need the holy water.
El cura ha bendecido a los fieles.
The priest has blessed the faithful.
Confundir – to confuse
adjective: confuso (confused, confusing)
past participle: confundio (confused)
Esto es un poco confuso, me lo explicas por favor.
This is a bit confusing, please explain it to me.
He estado confundido todo este tiempo.
I’ve been confused all the time.
Corromper – to corrupt
adjective: corrupto (corrupt)
past participle: corrompido (corrupted)
Este es un sistema corrupto.
This is a corrupt system.
Todo el sistema se ha corrompido.
The whole system has been corrupted.
Despertar – to wake
adjective: despierto (awake)
past participle: despertado (woken up)
Tienes que estar despierto toda la noche.
You have to be awake all night.
Me he despertado tarde, lo siento
I have woken up late, I’m sorry.
Poseer – to own
adjective: poseso (maniac, fanatic)
past participle: poseído (possessed)
Reía como un poseso.
He laughed like a maniac.
He poseído grandes poderes.
I have possessed great powers.
Presumir – to show off
adjective: presunto (alleged, presumed)
past participle: presumido (showed off)
Es un culpable presunto.
He is an alleged culprit.
Me has presumido tu coche todo el día.
You’ve been showing off your car to me all day.
Suspender – to suspend
adjective: suspenso (suspenseful)
past participle: suspendio (suspended, discontinued)
Es una suspensa película.
It’s a suspenseful movie.
Lo han suspendido en sus funciones.
They have suspended him from his duties.
There are only three verbs in Spanish that have two acceptable past participle forms:
- imprimir – imprimido, impreso
He imprimido / impreso dos copias.
I have printed two copies.
- freír – freído, frito
¿Has freído / frito los huevos?
Have you fried the eggs?
- proveer – proveído, provisto
La empresa ha proveído / provisto lo necesario.
The company has provided what is necessary.
Present Perfect Irregulars: Practice Exercises
Let’s see if you have learned the present perfect irregulars. What’s the correct past participle form in these sentences?
1. ¿Has _______ la nota? (escribir)
2. No les olvidaré lo que me han _______. (hacer)
3. El mesero ha _______ nuestra orden. (traer)
4. ¿Qué has _______? (decir)
5. ¿Quién ha _______ la comida en el lavabo? (poner)
6. Quiero hablar contigo pero mi celular está _______. (romper)
7. Nunca he _______ tus mentiras. (creer)
8. He _______ el pastel con chocolate. (cubiri)
9. El azúcar se ha _______ por completo. (disolver)
10. Nunca la he _______. (ver)
Click here for the answers and the translation of sentences.
As you can see, present perfect irregulars are not complicated. However, you’ll need to dedicate some time and memorize them. It’s always easier if you use them in context and practice with someone else. To learn more, check out Present Tense Verbs in Spanish, Part 3: The Present Perfect Tense.
To polish your present perfect irregulars and learn how to use them in conversation, sign up for a free class with one of our friendly and professional native speakers from Guatemala.
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