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Pretérito Perfecto in Spanish

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The past tenses in Spanish are one of the grammatical points that students often have doubts about. That’s why we are going to explain each of the indicative past tenses in the coming days. Today, we start with the pretérito perfecto de indicativo (also called the pretérito perfecto compuesto).

What is the pretérito perfecto in Spanish used for?

1. To talk about past actions, whether completed or not, that are related to the present.

Example: Este año he trabajado mucho. (The year is not over, and this fact is connected to the present, which is why we use the pretérito perfecto).

2. To talk about personal experiences.

Example: He ido de acampada muchas veces con mis amigos.

3. To express actions without specifying exactly when they happened or when they ended.

Example: He tenido muchos problemas en casa. (We don’t know when that situation ended, which is why we use the Pretérito Perfecto).

The pretérito perfecto, or pretérito perfecto compuesto, is formed with the present of the verb “haber” (yo he, tu has, él ha, nosotros hemos, vosotros habéis, ellos han) and the past participle. For infinitive verbs ending in -ar, we add -ado to the verb root, and for verbs ending in -er or -ir, we add -ido.

Formación del pretérito perfecto de indicativo en español

How is the past participle formed?

The past participle in Spanish is formed by adding -ado or -ido to the root of the infinitive verb. Remember that the verb root is what you get when you remove -ar, -er, or -ir from the infinitive verb. For example: cantar, without -ar, we have cant- as the root of the verb.

To form the past participle, we need to remember two very simple rules:

  1. For verbs ending in -ar in the infinitive, the past participle ends in -ado.
  2. For verbs ending in -er or -ir in the infinitive, the past participle ends in -ido.


Cantar –> cant- + –ado –> cantado

Comer –> com- + –ido –> comido

Vivir –> viv- + –ido –> vivido

Irregular participles:

The following participles are irregular. Derived verbs also have the irregular participle.

Participle of compound verbs

 ****Except: corromper –> corrompido (is regular) –> no corroto“.  

There are some participles that have two forms, one regular and one irregular. Both are correct and can be used interchangeably.    

InfinitiveRegular ParticipleIrregular Participle


How is the pretérito perfecto with reflexive verbs?

If the verb is reflexive (-se), the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) is always placed before the verb “haber.”

Subject pronouns (yo, tú, él…) can be omitted, but we can never omit the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se…).

Formation of the present perfect indicative tense of reflexive verbs.


Markers in the pretérito perfecto tense:

The pretérito perfecto in Spanish is usually used with the following markers:


Esta mañana/tarde/noche…

Este mes/año…

Estos días /recientemente/últimamente…


Ya/todavía no/ aún no

Here is an infographic that summarizes all the explanation today about the pretérito perfecto in Spanish.

Infographic on the form and uses of the pretérito perfecto tense in Spanish

My advice as a teacher and as a language learner: you can print this infographic and stick it in your Spanish notebook. That way, you can always have it handy for reference. I would also write different example sentences in the notebook to know how to use the pretérito perfecto.

Do you have a clearer understanding of the present perfect now?

I hope today’s explanation and the infographic are helpful. In the next post, we will review the pretérito indefinido (simple past) tense.

Don’t forget to share this post, and if you have any questions, you can leave a comment. I will respond as soon as possible.

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