Spanish Grammar Lesson

The Present Perfect Tense

For Irregular Verbs

The Present Perfect Tense for irregular verbs has the same format as the Present Perfect for regular verbs. 
Recall that the Present Perfect Tense is a compound tense, because it requires an auxiliary verb, haber (to have)
and the past participle of the verb. As in English, the verb haber always comes before the present  participle.


Present tense of Haber             +          Past Participle


However, the key is to understand that certain verbs in Spanish maintain an irregular conjugation pattern.  
In this first set of irregular verbs, an “o” is dropped from the infinitive and replaced with “ue.”


For example, the verb volver (to return) is an irregular verb with an irregular conjugation in the Present Tense,
as well as for its Past Participle. This is evident in the following sentence:


Cada año, Rodrigo vuelve a su país para celebrar la Navidad.

(Each year, Rodrigo returns to his country to celebrate Christmas.)


In the above example, volver, an -er verb has the vowel “o” in the second to last syllable.  When it is conjugated
in the present tense, we changed the “o” into a “ue.”  Volver and other verbs in this class maintain the pattern of
converting the “o” to a “ue.”


The past participle for -ar and -er verbs that mirror volver will include two changes: In the penultimate syllable,
"o" is still changed to “ue.” However, the ending, or stem, also changes.  This transition is seen below:


Volver --à “v” + “ue” + lto  =  vuelto  (returned)


With this in mind, what follows is the conjugation for the Present Perfect for volver.


Yo he vuelto    (I have returned)                       nosotros hemos vuelto (we have returned)

tú has vuelto   (you have returned)                   ellos han vuelto (they have returned)

él ha vuelto     (he has returned)                       ellas han vuelto (they have returned)

ella ha vuelto  (she has returned)                     ustedes han vuelto (you have returned)

usted ha vuelto (you have returned)


Here is an example of volver in the Present Perfect Tense:


Cada año, Rodrigo ha vuelto a su país para celebrar la Navidad.

(Each year, Rodrigo has returned to his country to celebrate Christmas.)


Other examples of this class of irregular verbs are as follows:


Infinitive                                Present Indicative                Past Participle                       Present Perfect


Morirse (to die)            me muero                    muerto                         me he muerto

                                    (I die)                           (died)                           (I have died)


Ponerse (to put/place)  me pongo                    puesto                          me he puesto

                                    (I put on)                      (put)                             (I have put on)


Although the present tense of ponerse, does not follow the conversion from “o” to “ue,” the conversion
already described does occur in the past participle.


Here are a few more examples:


Mariana y yo hemos vuelto de la playa.

(Mariana ad I have returned from the beach.)


Se ha muerto el hermano de Julio.

(Julio’s brother has died.)


Ellos se han puesto en la fila.

(They have placed themselves on the line.]


*It should be noted that the verb volar (to fly) should not be confused with volver (to return). 
Although volar is an irregular verb in the present indicative tense, its Past Participle volado
(flown) is not irregular. Therefore, volar in the Present Perfect Tense also has a regular conjugation.


For example:


Vuelo a la capital hoy.

(I fly to the capital today.)


Roberto ha volado a la capital hoy.

(Roberto has flown to the capital today.)


The conjugation of volar in the Present Perfect Tense mirrors regular -ar verbs.


See the following comparison:


He volado.                               He hablado.

(I have flown)                           (I have spoken)


The above distinction is an important one. In Spanish there are verbs that are usually irregular,
but that are conjugated as regular verbs in the Present Perfect Tense because their past participle is regular.


What follows are a few examples of this:


Infinitive Verb                       Present Indicative                Past Participle       Present Perfect

                                                (irregular)                               (regular)                 (regular)


Dolerse                        me duele                      dolido              Me ha dolido

(to hurt)                        (it hurts me)                  (hurt)                (It has hurt me.)


Pedir                           pides                            pedido             Tú has pedido

(to ask for)                   (you ask for)                 (asked)             (You have asked for)


Seguir                          Ella sigue                    seguido            Ella ha seguido

(to follow)                    (she follows)                 (followed)         (She has followed)


Soltar                          Ellos sueltan                soltado                        Ellos han soltado

(To release)                  (They release)               (released)         (They have released)    


Dormirse                     te duermes                   dormido           Te has dormido.

(to fall asleep)               (You fall asleep)           (fallen asleep)   (You have fallen asleep)


Herirse                                    me hiero                      herido              Me he herido

(to hurt oneself)                        (I hurt myself)               (hurt)                (I have hurt myself)


Acostarse                    se acuestan                  acostado          Se han acostado

(to go to bed)               (they go to bed)            (gone to bed)    (They have gone to bed)


Recordarse                  Juan se recuerda         recordado        Juan se ha recordado

(to remember)              (Juan remembers)         (remembered)   (Juan has remembered)



The second class of irregular verbs in the Present Perfect Tense are a  few -er and -ir verbs that change
dramatically.  This is the case with decir (to say, to tell) and hacer (to make).


For example:


Te he dicho la verdad.   (I have told you the truth)

Rosario ha hecho un collar bonito. (Rosario has made a pretty necklace.)


In both examples, decir and hacer are irregular verbs in the present indicative.


For example:


Digo la verdad.                       (I tell the truth.)


Once the Past participle for each verb is learned, the Present Perfect Tense is simple.


Decir (to say, to tell)                                         Past Participle: Dicho


Yo he dicho      (I have said)                             nosotros hemos dicho (we have said)

tú has dicho     (you have said)                         ellos han dicho (they have said)

él ha dicho       (he has said)                             ellas han dicho (they have said)

ella ha dicho    (she has said)                           ustedes han dicho (you have said)

usted ha dicho (you have said)


Hacer (to make)                                               Past Participle:  Hecho


Yo he hecho     (I have made)                           nosotros hemos hecho (we have made)

tú has hecho    (you have made)                       ellos han hecho (they have made)

él ha hecho      (he has made)                           ellas han hecho (they have made)

ella ha hecho   (she has made)                         ustedes han hecho (you have made)

usted ha hecho (you have made)


The third class of irregular verbs in the Present Perfect Tense includes verbs in -eir, -ir, and
in which the "i" or "e" of the stem is dropped and replaced with  -ído.


What follows are a few examples of this:


Infinitive Verb                       Present Indicative                Past Participle       Present Perfect

                                                (irregular)                               (regular)                 (regular)


caerse                          me caigo                      caído               Me he caído

(to fall)             (I fall)                           (fallen)              (I have fallen)


leer                              tú lees                          leído                Tú has leído

(to read)                       (You read)                   (read)               (You have read)


traer                            José trae                      traído              José ha traído

(to bring)                      (José brings)                 (brought)          José has brought)


oír                                Juana y yo oímos        oído                 Juana y yo  hemos oído

(to hear)                       (They hear)                   (heard)             (They have heard)


With practice, conjugating irregular verbs in the Present Perfect Tense can be quite simple.


Now let’s try a few exercises.  Translate the following into Spanish.  The answers follow the exercise.



1.         The boy has returned from school.

2.         Mario and Pablo have fallen from the tree.

3.         The teacher's dog has died.

4.         We have brought candy from home.

5.         I have read many books.

6.         Rosa has released the bird.

7.         They have told lies.

8.         Ricardo's parents have made a cake.

9.         The plane has flown to Miami.

10.       The Smiths have heard that song.


1.         El muchacho ha vuelto de la escuela.

2.         Mario y Pablo se han caído del árbol.

3.         El perro de la maestra se ha muerto.

4.         Hemos traído dulce de la casa.

5.         He leído muchos libros.

6.         Rosa ha soltado al pájaro.

7.         Ellos han dicho mentiras.

8.         Los padres de Ricardo han hecho una torta.

9.         El avión ha volado a Miami.

10.       La familia Smith ha oído esa canción.      



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