Spanish grammar explanation.

Spanish Present Perfect – GRAMMAR (A1)

Spanish present perfect

The  PRESENT PERFECT TENSE  or PRETÉRITO PERFECTO in Spanish describes what a person has done in an indeterminate point the past, it used very much to talk about experiences when it is not important when the event(s) took place, or to talk about an action that happened in the recent past.

Hemos ido a Bolivia dos veces (We have gone to Bolivia twice-it is not important when.)

He visto a Mercedes en el pasillo (I have seen Mercedes on the corridor- I understand that recently.)

 Forming the present perfect indicative

1. Because the present perfect tense is a compound tense, you will be working with two verbs, not one. To form verbs in this tense, first conjugate haber (to have) in the present (not tener, even though it means to have too):

HABER – to have (auxiliary)
(yo) he (nosotros, -as) hemos
(tu) has (vosotros, -as) habéis
(usted) ha (ustedes) han
(el, ella) ha (ellos, -as) han

2. The conjugated form of haber is followed by the past participle of the desired verb. Most past participle in Spanish are regulars. The pattern for regular past participles are below:

  • -ar verbs, drop the ar ending and replace it with –ado: hablar = hablado.
  • -er verbs, drop the –er ending and replace it with –ido: comer = comido.
  • -ir verbs, drop the –ir ending and replace it with ido: recibir = recibido.

Ya has hablado con Enrique (you have already spoken to Enrique.)

Nunca he comido ceviche (I have never eaten ceviche.)

Todavia no hemos recibido los regalos (We haven’t received the present yet.)

There are several common verbs that have irregular past participles: ver =visto, ir= ido, hacer = hecho, escribir = escrito, decir = dicho, volver = vuelto, abrir= abierto, poner = puesto, morir= muerto, imprimir=  impreso... (learn more about past participles).

3. The auxiliary verb (haber) and the past participle are never separated in Spanish, unlike English. If object pronouns are present, they go immediately before haber.

¿Los has visto? (Have you seen them?)

Se las he dado. (I have given them to her.)

4. It is mainly used with expressions such as nunca (never), ya (already), todavía no (not yet), a veces (sometimes), ¿alguna vez (ever)?

This form is very widely used in Spain, while in Latin and South America, the preterite is used more often. In the following examples, you can see some differences between both ways to use this tense:

Este mes he viajado a Perú. (This month I have traveled to Peru-Spain.)

Este mes viajé a Perú. (This month I traveled to Peru-America.)

Hoy he llegado tarde a trabajar. (Today I have arrived late to work– Spain.)

Hoy llegué tarde a trabajar. (Today I arrived late to work-America.)

5. The present perfect tense is NOT used:

  • to indicate an action still in progress. The present tense is used to do this:

Hace tres años que vivo aquí. (I have lived here for three years.)

  • to express the idea to have just done something. It is more common to use the periphrasis acabar + de to convey this idea.

Acabo de leer este libro. (I have just finished reading this book.)

6. Finally, notice that the verb is usually called present perfect indicative because there is also a present perfect subjunctive, but don’t panic this second present perfect is much easier to learn.

Spanish present perfect tense activities and quizzes

Now, you can practice with our quizzes everything that you have learned and don’t forget to check the past participles entry.

You can also learn how the present perfect works in context by watching the video “¿Alguna vez has viajado en barco?”  or listening to the podcast_042: Un día en la selva (A1).  Remember to contact your tutor with any question you have or to ask for more homework. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?

Spanish Demonstrative Pronouns (A2)

Do you already know how to use the demonstrative adjectives in Spanish? If your answer is “yes”, it is time to start working with the demonstrative pronouns or,  PRONOMBRES DEMOSTRATIVOS in Spanish. If not click on the link to learn about the adjectives first.

Spanish adjectives pronouns, let's see how they work

Demonstrative pronouns in Spanish (words that point out a specific person or thing) are identical to the demonstrative adjectives, as you can see in the grid above. Although pronouns agree in number and gender with the noun they replace.

Esta chaqueta y esa son de cuero (This jacket and that one are leather).

Estos libros y aquellos parecen más interesantes (These books and those look more interesting).

Sometimes you can see Spanish demonstrative pronouns written with an accent on the stressed syllable (over the first e in each word: éste, ése, aquél…), this is because years ago an accent was compulsory on the pronouns to avoid mistake them with the demonstrative adjectives, but not anymore. Spanish demonstrative pronouns must not be written with an accent!


Other ways to omit the name

The definite article (el, la, los, las) followed by “de” or “que” is often translated as a kind of demonstrative pronoun.

Mi corbata y la de mi hermano (my tie and that of my brother (my brother’s) ).

Este libro y el que tiene Juan son interesantes (This book and the one that Juan has (Juan’s) are interesting).


Neuter demonstrative pronouns

The neuter forms (eso, esto, aquello) are used when the gender is not determined or when referring to vague or general ideas, never to persons or specific things. These words do not vary in gender or number and no accent mark is required.

¿Qué es esto? (What is this?) [unknown].

Estoy enfermo y esto me molesta (I’m ill and this makes me angry) [general idea].


Former vs latter in Spanish

The pronoun este (-a, -os, -as) is used to translate the latter (the latest or most recently mentioned), while aquel (-lla, -llos, -llas) expresses the former (the most remotely mentioned).

Olga y Chema son hermanos; este es dentista, aquella es doctora (Olga and Chema are siblings; the former is a doctor, the latter is a dentist).

Note that in English, you begin with “the former,” but in Spanish, this order is reversed.


Spanish demonstrative pronouns practice and quizzes

Now is time for you to practice what you have learned with our quizzes below and remember to contact your tutor if you have any question about the Spanish demonstrative pronouns. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?


Each other in Spanish, reciprocal verbs (A2)

We have worked with reflexive pronouns before, but do you know we can use reflexive pronouns to express reciprocity?  The plural pronominal/reflexive pronouns (nos, os, se) are used to express “each other” or “to each other.” Let’s see how the reciprocal verbs and pronouns work in Spanish.

Reflexive and reciprocal verbs in Spanish

 Se abrazan (They hug to each other or they hug themselves).

Because the above statements could have a reflexive meaning as well, one may add one of the following phrases to clarify, but this is optional since the context of the sentence is going to be very helpful.

Se abrazan el uno al otro (they hug to each other).

Continue reading Each other in Spanish, reciprocal verbs (A2)

Double object pronouns in Spanish (A2)

Using double objects pronouns in Spanish implies working with direct object pronouns (D.O.P.), indirect object pronouns (I.O.P.) and reflexive pronouns and their collocations. So first at all, I advise you to review these topics individually (by clicking on the link) if you don’t feel very confident about them.

Anyway, you can find all these pronouns in the chart below.

double objects pronouns in Spanish

Continue reading Double object pronouns in Spanish (A2)

Reported Speech in Spanish (B1)

Reported speech or indirect speech  EL ESTILO INDIRECTO in Spanish- are used to relate someone’s words without using a direct quote. 

Expressing "Say"

Decir without an indirect object usually means “to say.” In Spanish, as in English, when reporting what someone “says,” the tense used in the original statement is also used in the reported-speech expression.

reported speech in Spanish: how to do it

On the other hand, when reporting what someone “said,” a past tense is used. The indicative is used to report what someone says or said. The subjunctive is used  in commands, to report what someone tells or told someone else to do.

By the way, click here to see the whole verb DECIR conjugation in Spanish.

Direct and indirect Speech in Spanish

Here you have some examples. Tense original quote is the direct speech, tense after “dice que” is the indirect speech in present while tense after “dijo que” is the indirect speech in the past.

Notice that in English “that” is optional in reported speech: He says he worked hard. / He says that he worked hard. In Spanish “que” is compulsory: Dijo que trabajaba duro.

There are much more about reported speech what we will see it in future post, so keep in touch!

Reported speech exercices

Now it is time you practice everything you have learned with the interactive activitiy below.  Remember to contact your tutor with any question you have about reported speech in Spanish or to ask for more activities. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?

Direct and Indirect object pronouns in Spanish

Object pronouns -direct and indirect object pronouns- substitute the noun. In English these are ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’ and so on. For example, in the sentence ‘Give Sam the pen,’ Sam is a noun, which can be changed to ‘Give her the pen.’ In Spanish the pronoun either comes before the verb as a separate word or after joined with the verb, when are used with affirmative imperative, an infinitive or a gerund. For example:

Le da el boli (he is giving her the pen).

Voy a darle el boli (I am going to give her the pen).

‘Dale el boli’ (give her the pen).

Estoy dándole el bolí (I am giving her the pen).

Object pronouns in Spanish

Direct and Indirect object pronouns in Spanish

¿Puedes hacerme una tostada? (Can you make me a toast?)

Os llamo manaña (I will call you tomorrow).

¿Te gusta este libro? (Do you like this book?)

Direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish

As you can see object pronouns are a little more complicated in Spanish and that is because they change depending on whether you are referring to the direct or indirect object. Direct and indirect objects are nothing to be afraid of – you have them in English.

How direct and indirect objects work

The majority of sentences have two objects. The direct object is the noun or pronoun on the receiving end of the action for example, ‘Pass me the pen’ – it is the pen here that is receiving the action (by being passed around). The indirect object is the person or entity for whom you are doing the action.

In the above sentence the indirect object is ‘me’. Another way to say this would be ‘Pass the pen for me’. In English indirect objects are often indicated with the prepositions ‘for’ or ‘to.’ For example, ‘Explain the problem to us’ – the problem is the direct object while ‘us’ is the indirect object. With pronouns this is ‘Explain it to us.’ In the Spanish equivalent of this sentence the direct object is signified with ‘lo’ and the indirect with ‘nos.’ So it would be ‘explícamelo’ – The indirect object goes first followed by the direct (or in other words ‘lo’ and ‘la’ go at the end). Explain to him the problem would be ‘Explícale el problema.’

The LE, LO, LA rule

If I were to say in Spanish (Give them to them) I would end up with ‘Daleslas.’ These are far too many ‘l’ words for comfort. To avoid the Repetition of all those ‘l’ sounds ‘le’ and ‘les’ change to ‘se’ when paired with ‘lo,’ ‘la’, ‘los’ or ‘las.’ So the above sentence would be ‘Dáselas.’ More examples ‘Explícaselo’ (explain it to her). ‘Prestárselo’ (lend him/them it).

Remember you can contact you tutor with any question you have about direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish. Don’t you have a personal Spanish tutor yet? Also you can try our workshop about personal pronouns. Now, it is time to practice what you have learned with our quizzes.

Verbs like GUSTAR (A2)

You will probably already have come across the phrase me gusta meaning I like Actually, gustar means literally to please, and works also like this verb, where the thing that you like is the subject of the sentence:


Nos gusta el flamenco (We like flamenco or literally “flamenco pleases us”).

Even though flamenco comes after gustar is the subject of the sentence and therefore the ending of the verb agree with flamenco instead of with we (learn more about gustar).

There are many other verbs like gustar in Spanish. In fact, practically most of the Spanish verbs can be used like gustar, but careful because they usually change their original meaning. Let’s see some of them. Continue reading Verbs like GUSTAR (A2)

Participles in Spanish, how you can use them (A2)

past participle
The wine glass is broken. Who would have broken it

Participles are impersonal forms of the verbs: hablado, comido, apagado, encendido, cerrado, abierto, visto, hecho... that can be used as verbs or as adjectives:

He cerrado la puerta (verb).

La puerta está cerrada (adjectives).

In a previous post, we learned how to form them and to identify irregulars, notice that most participles end in -ado or -ido, there are few irregulars very they are very common: visto (seen), hecho (done), escrito (written)… Make sure you know them well before continuing with this lesson because today.we are going to focus on the different ways to use them. They are so useful!

How to use participles in Spanish

1) Past participles are mainly used in compound tenses. Compound tenses in Spanish consist of the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb “haber” plus the past participle. The past participle does not change for gender or number in the compound tenses.

  • The present tense of the auxiliary verb “haber” the past Crear imagenes - copia (2)participle forms the present perfect tense:

Nunca he visto nada igual (I have never seen anything like this).

  • The pluperfect tense (also called the past perfect) consists of the imperfect of the auxiliary verb “haber” and the past participle (information and function it is very much like the English pluperfect: had done something):

Cuando llegamos ya se habían ido (When we arrived they had already left).

  • The future perfect tense with the future tense of auxiliary verb “haber” and the past participle:

No sé si él ya habrá llegado (I don’t know if he will have arrived yet).

2) Most past participles can be used as adjectives. They can modify nouns directly or serve as predicate adjectives. When a past participle is used as an adjective, it agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies.

Crear imagenesUna novela mal escrita (a poorly written novel).

Unos edificios recién construidos (recently built buildings).

Cielos despejados (clear skies).

Luis tiene el brazo roto (Luis has a broken arm).

Sus padres estaban preocupados (His parents were worried).

Mi computadora está rota (My computer is broken).

Las ventanas están abiertas (The windows are open).

3) Past participles, especially in written Spanish, can be used as substitutes for clauses. This is possible in English too, but the English past participle is usually accompanied by the word “having

Aclarado el asunto, pudieron llegar a un acuerdo (The matter having been cleared up, they were able to reach an agreement).

Terminada la conferencia, los estudiantes se levantaron y se fueron (The lecture has ended, the students got up and left).Crear imagenes - copia

4) TENER can be used with a past participle to emphasize the completion of action especially one that required considerable effort. In this construction, the past participle agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to. This noun would be the direct object of the verb in the present perfect. Compare the following pairs of sentences.

He hecho la cena (I’ve made dinner). Tengo la cena hecha (I have dinner ready – I have finished making dinner).
Hemos escrito todos nuestros informes (We have written all our reports). Tenemos escritos todos nuestros informes (We have completed the writing of all our reports).
A ver si ya han reparado los ordenadores (Let’s see if they’ve already repaired the computers). A ver si ya tienen reparadas los ordenadores (Let’s see if they’ve already finished repairing the computers).


Exercises to practice participles 

Now it is time to practice what you have learned, but before doing the exercises remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?

Possessive pronouns in Spanish (A2)

Spanish possessive pronouns

A possessive pronoun is one of the words like mine, yours, hers his…, in English, which are used instead of a noun to show that one person or thing belongs to another. Let’s see first what the possessive pronouns are in Spanish and how to use it.

Possessive pronouns

How to use possessive pronouns in Spanish

In the chart above you can see the Spanish possessive pronouns which agree with what they describe, NOT with the person who owns that thing. For example, el suyo can mean his, her, yours or theirs, but can only be used to replace a masculine singular noun.

  • After ser use mío, tuyo, etc (without article) to mean mine, your, etc.

             – ¿De quién es la cartera? (Who the wallet is it?)

             – Es mía (It is mine).

Only use the article after ser when the sense is my one, your one, etc.   Compare:

Pregunta a Ana si este abrigo es suyo (Ask Ana if this coat is hers).

Pregunta a Ana si este abrigo es el suyo (Ask Ana if this coat is her one).

  • Instead of el suyo/la suya/los suyos/las suyas, it is sometimes clearer to say el/la/los/las de usted/él/ella/ustedes/ellos/ellas. You choose between the definite article to agree with the noun referred to.

Mi libro y el de usted (my book and yours).

Mis amigas y las de ella (my friends and hers).

  • El/la/los/las can also be used with a name or other noun referring to somebody.

Lola tiene un jardín muy bonito, pero yo prefiero el de Marisa (Lola’s got a nice garden but I prefer Marisa’s).

Ellos tienen un coche muy rápido, pero yo prefiero el de mi jefe (they’ve got a fast car but I prefer my boss’).

Possessive pronouns exercises

Now we are going to practice everything that we have learned with the activities below. Please, leave us a message if you want we prepare more exercises about this topic. Remember to contact your tutor if you have any question. Don’t you have a Spanish private tutor yet?