7.1 Compound tenses - an introduction

As in most languages there are also in Spanish compound languages. They consist usually of a modal verb (to have) and the perfect participle (here eaten). In English there are some more than in most other languages because of the continuous forms of all tenses. But if we just have a look at the main compound tenses we will find the present perfect and the past perfect (plusquamperfecto).

present perfect past perfect (plusquamperfecto)
I have eaten
you have eaten
he has eaten
we have eaten
you have eaten
they have eaten
I had eaten
you had eaten
he had eaten
we had eaten
you had eaten
they had eaten

There are some general rules that should be taken into account when looking at the tenses in Spanish language.

  Some general rules




The Spanish tenses are well defined (even if it doesn't look like that on the first glance) and they need to be used according to their rules.

In Spanish there are more tenses, we have two simple past tenses (pretérito indefinido and pretérito imperfecto) and three compound tenses (perfecto, plusquamperfecto and anterior).

The modal verb for the Spanish compound tenses is haber. In English to have is used as a modal verb for the compound tenses.

haber is not used as a full verb for to own, to have anymore. It once had this meaning, now it's only history. A remainder is hay = there is (No hay zumo de naranja = there is no orange juice).

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