Unit 10: Structures with “hacer,” introduction to perfect tenses, translation considerations (part 1)

10.6 The Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is formed by the present tense of the auxiliary verb haber (which gives the forms hay [an alternate form], había, and hubo [all already studied]), + the past participle, studied in section 10.5. Haber, not tener (which means “to have” in the sense of “to own” or “to possess”), is the auxiliary verb used to form all compound tenses in Spanish.

IR Translation
he ido I have gone
has ido you have gone (fam.)
ha ido he/she/you (form.) has/have gone
hemos ido we have gone
habéis ido you (fam. pl.) have gone
han ido they/you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) have gone

In most of the Spanish-speaking world, the present perfect tense is used in a very similar manner to its English counterpart, and in both languages refers to a recent past event that continues into the present or has bearing on it:

El pobre ha estado desempleado recientemente. The poor (unfortunate) man has been unemployed recently.
El número de muertos ha aumentado este año por razones desconocidas. The number of dead (people) has increased this year for reasons unknown.
Han vivido en Egipto por un año. They have lived in Egypt for one year.

The last example, in which a duration of time is expressed, is also commonly rendered by the non-systemic construction using hace (section 10.1):

Hace un año que viven en Egipto. They have lived in Egypt for one year.

The present tense forms of haber occasionally occur followed by de + infinitive and translate as “to be to,” “to be supposed to,” or “must” (when referring to probability):

Hemos de etudiar esta noche. We are (supposed) to study tonight.
Ha de llover mañana. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.
Han de saber la respuesta. They must know the answer.



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