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Present/perfect/past in Spanish

The present perfect tense in Spanish (pretérito perfecto) is much more common in Spain than in Latin America, where the simple past tense (pretérito) is used instead:

 

  •  has Sally arrived? = ¿ha llegado Sally? (in Spain) or ¿llegó Sally? (in Latin America)

  •  he has died = se ha muerto (in Spain)

 

or se murió (in Latin America)

This avoidance of the present perfect is very comprehensive in certain regions, such as the River Plate area, where we haven’t eaten yet would be translated by todavía no comimos instead of todavía no hemos comido. Other regions use a mixture of both tenses in varying degrees

Note however that Peninsular Spanish may sometimes use the present perfect when English uses the simple past:

 

  •  this morning I got up late and… = esta mañana me he levantado tarde y…

  •  after that I studied at Salamanca University = después he estudiado en la universidad de Salamanca

 

In both of these cases Latin American Spanish would always use the simple past tense:

 

  •  this morning I got up late and… = esta mañana me levanté tarde y…

  •  after that I studied at Salamanca University = después estudié en la universidad de Salamanca

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