Using & Conjugating the Present Perfect Subjunctive in Spanish

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  • 1:05 Present & Present Perfect
  • 2:04 Conjugating Present…
  • 3:24 Past Participles
  • 7:00 No & Other Words in the Clause
  • 8:13 Another Use
  • 8:52 Practice
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

In this lesson, we will learn how to conjugate and use the present perfect subjunctive in Spanish. We'll look at the difference between the present subjunctive and the present perfect subjunctive and practice some vocabulary about advertising.

Present Perfect Subjunctive

The present perfect subjunctive talks not only about something that has happened or something that you have done, like the present perfect indicative, but also expresses emotions, doubt, disbelief, denial, will, influence, or uses conjunctions or adjective clauses. That is exactly why it is a subjunctive tense. It has a trigger that tells us that subjunctive is required.

¡OJO! - that means eye but also 'pay attention.' It is very important to remember that there are some triggers that work for all other subjunctive tenses but do not work with the present perfect subjunctive: recomendar, sugerir, aconsejar, and other similar verbs of advice do not make sense if used as triggers for the present perfect subjunctive. You would not say something like, 'I recommend that you haven't gotten sick' in English, and in Spanish, it doesn't make sense either.

Present & Present Perfect Subjunctive

The main difference between the present subjunctive, like, Es importante que trabajes, and the present perfect subjunctive, like, Es importante que hayas trabajado, is that the first one talks about something in the present, but the second one talks about something in the past, something that has happened or what someone has done.

While the structure for the present subjunctive is: Present in the main clause - Present (subjunctive) in the subordinate clause, the structure for the present perfect subjunctive is: Present - Past.

Now, one other key difference is that the present subjunctive is only one word: trabaje, coma, haga, tenga, etc. while the present perfect subjunctive has two parts: haya comido, hayas tenido, haya preparado, hayamos escrito.

Conjugating Present Perfect Subjunctive

How did we get these two parts to form the present perfect subjunctive?

All perfect tenses have two parts:

haber + past participle

Let's see some of those perfect tenses:

Present perfect
he, has, ha,
hemos, habéis, han
+ past participle = Yo he comido
(I have eaten)

Past perfect
había, habías, había,
habíamos, habíais, habían
+ past participle = Tú habías bebido
(You had drunk)

Present perfect
haya, hayas, haya,
hayamos, hayáis, hayan
+ past participle = ... que hayas vivido
(... that you have lived)

What do you see about the forms of haber for the present perfect subjunctive?

Exactly! We have the present subjunctive forms haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan. But what about the other part of the tense?

Past Participles

Past participle… hmmm, how do you eat that? (It's just a saying in Spanish when you don't have any idea about what the person is talking about.) Past participles are forms of verbs that can be used as adjectives as in, 'The movie was made by Spielberg,' or 'My shirt was made in Mexico.' Also, they can be used as the second part of perfect tenses as in, 'I have watched that movie,' or 'I have seen them at the library.'

Spanish and English have regular and irregular past participles. The regular ones are formed this way:

Type of Verb Infinitive Stem add Past participle
-ar bailar bail- -ado bailado
-er comer com- -ido comido
-ir vivir viv- -ido vivido

So, you remove the -ar, -er, -ir part and add the ending. When these past participles are used in present perfect subjunctive, the past participles do not change according to gender and number, but when used as adjectives, we know that they change according to gender and number. Las naranjas están perdidas. (The oranges are lost.) or Las personas están sentadas. (The people are seated.) A lot of times, the past participle used as an adjective is preceded by the verb estar, plural or singular, according to what they are describing.

When we find irregular past participles, we need to memorize them. Just like in English for to make - made, to see - seen, etc. Spanish requires memorizing some irregular verbs.

Some examples are:

decir (to say) - dicho (said)

hacer (to do/make) - hecho (done/made)

romper (to break) - roto (broken)

Again, when we use past participles as part of a perfect tense, in our case present perfect subjunctive, they are always masculine and singular. Let's look at some examples:

1. Dudo que hayas comprado ese producto.
(I doubt that you have bought that product.)

2. No es probable que hayan terminado su relación de negocios.
(It is not probable that they have ended their business relationship.)

3. No pienso que nosotros hayamos tenido la mejor campaña publicitaria.
(I do not think that we have had the best advertising campaign.)

4. Es bueno que hayas contratado esa agencia de publicidad.
(It is good that you have hired that advertising agency.)

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