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 Perfect Tense For Irregular Verbs
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.
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:
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 and 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.
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:
(I have flown)
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:
Dolerse (to hurt)Pedir (to ask for)Seguir (to follow)Soltar (To release)
Dormirse (to fall asleep)Herirse (to hurt oneself)Acostarse (to go to bed)Recordarse (to remember)
(irregular)me duele (it hurts me)pides (you ask for)Ella sigue (she follows)Ellos sueltan (They release)te duermes (You fall asleep)me hiero (I hurt myself)se acuestan (they go to bed)Juan se recuerda (Juan remembers)
(regular)dolido (hurt)pedido (asked)seguido (followed)soltado (released)dormido (fallen asleep)herido (hurt)acostado (gone to bed)recordado (remembered)
(regular)Me ha dolido (It has hurt me.)Tú has pedido (You have asked for)Ella ha seguido (She has followed)Ellos han soltado (They have released)Te has dormido.(You have fallen asleep)Me he herido (I have hurt myself)Se han acostado (They have gone to bed)Juan se ha recordado (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).
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.
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)Yo he dicho (I have said)tú has dicho (you have said)él ha dicho (he has said)ella ha dicho (she has said)usted ha dicho (you have said)
The third class of irregular verbs in the Present Perfect Tense includes verbs in –eir, -ir, and
-er in which the “i” or “e” of the stem is dropped and replaced with –ído.
What follows are a few examples of this:
caerse (to fall)leer (to read)traer (to bring)oír (to hear)
(irregular)me caigo (I fall)tú lees (You read)José trae (José brings)Juana y yo oímos (They hear)
(regular)caído (fallen)leído (read)traído (brought)oído (heard)
(regular)Me he caído (I have fallen)Tú has leído (You have read)José ha traído (José has brought)Juana y yo hemos oído (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.