Decir Perfect Conjugation: Present & Preterite

Instructor: Elena Sacramento

Elena teaches Spanish as a foreign language and has a PhD in linguistics.

This lesson focuses on the Spanish verb ''decir'', which means 'to say' or 'to tell'. You will learn how to use it in the past, tell stories or reproduce what other people said by using two past tenses - the present perfect and the preterite.

Introducing the Verb Decir

What did your best friend tell you when she last phoned you? What did you say to your parents earlier? Have you ever told a lie? If so, why?

We are constantly speaking, sharing our thoughts and telling stories, so the verb decir (deh-SEER; 'to say, to tell') is undoubtedly worth learning. By conjugating it properly you will be able to tell stories and anecdotes or reproduce what other people said using your own words.

Present Perfect of Decir

With the present perfect we talk about past actions that have an influence on the present or on the moment of speaking.

The present perfect consists of two parts:

  • the present of the verb haber + the past participle

Note: The past participle of decir is dicho. It's irregular, so it is quite different from the infinitive.

But the good news is that the participle never changes, so you just need to conjugate the haber part.

Subject Pronouns Decir Conjugation: Present Perfect Pronunciation Translation
yo he dicho eh DEE-choh I have said/told
has dicho ahs DEE-choh you have said/told
él/ella/usted ha dicho ah DEE-choh he/she has said/told - you (formal) have said/told
nosotros/as hemos dicho EH-mohs DEE-choh we have said/told
vosotros/as habéis dicho ah-BAYS DEE-choh you all have said/told
ellos/ellas/ustedes han dicho ahn DEE-choh they/you all (formal) have said/told

Use & Examples

Normally, we use the verb decir in the present perfect to tell what you or other people have said. The structure is: subject + decir + que + sentence

For example, you are organizing a weekend with your friends and tell your brother about it:

  • Marta ha dicho que traerá un juego de mesa. ('Marta has said that she will bring a board game'.)
  • Luis y Clara han dicho que harán un pastel. ('Luis and Clara have said that they will make a cake'.)

If we want to specify to whom you or someone else said something, we will add a pronoun (me/te/le/nos/os/les) IN FRONT of the verb:

  • ¿Qué le has dicho a María? ('What have you said to María?')
  • Le he dicho que nos llame en cuanto termine de trabajar. ('I have told her to call us as soon as she finishes work'.)

Ana ha dicho que viene luego = Ana has said she will come later
smartphone

Preterite of Decir

We use the preterite to talk about finished actions in the past, so with the preterite of decir you can tell stories and anecdotes or tell what others have said as well.

The preterite of decir is also irregular and its stem becomes dij-. So just take this stem and add the preterite endings.

Subject Pronouns Decir Conjugation: Preterite Pronunciation Translation
yo dije DEE-heh I said/told
dijiste dee-HEES-teh you said/told
él/ella/usted dijo DEE-hoh he/she/you (formal) said/told
nosotros/as dijimos dee-HEE-mohs we said/told
vosotros/as dijisteis dee-HEES-tays you all said/told
ellos/ellas/ustedes dijeron dee-HEH-rohn they/you all (formal) said/told

Use & Examples

We use the structure subject + decir + que + sentence.

Again, add a pronoun (me/te/le/nos/os/les) IN FRONT of the verb if you want to specify to whom something was said:

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