Haber as Auxiliary Verb
The three moods, which include all tenses, are:
6. Present Subjunctive
7. Imperfect Subjunctive (aka Past Subjunctive)
Being that there are seven simple tenses, it is then possible to create seven more compound tenses by combining the verb HABER (auxiliary verb "to have") with a past participle (a verb converted to its adjectival form.) That means that there are 14 different verb tenses/moods, plus an alternative form of the imperfect subjunctive. Add to that the five command forms and three uninflected forms, and you have a total of 98 different spellings for each verb.
The reason for doing this is perhaps best explained by examining the Preterite and the Imperfect Past tenses together, and comparing them to the Present Perfect and Present tenses.
It also helps to realize that the full and proper names for these four tenses we will be examining are:
- Present Imperfect Indicative (simple present tense)
- Present Perfect Indicative (compound present tense)
- Preterite Perfect Indicative (simple past tense known as the Preterite)
- Preterite Imperfect Indicative
- Comí las bananas. - I ate the bananas.
- Comía las bananas. (or Comía bananas) - I was eating the bananas. (or, better yet: I used to eat bananas)
- He comido las bananas - I have eaten the bananas.
- Como bananas. - I eat bananas
The simple present is used to express actions that are occurring, or that happen habitually. The compound present, or present perfect is used to express actions that are completed or perfected some time previous to the present moment.
The same is true of preterite and imperfect tenses, except that the reference point is in the past.
The next step is to explain the purpose and function of the other compound tenses. The next most common compound tense is to put the verb HABER in the past tense: había comido & hube comido.
Since the distinction between Preterite and Imperfect is extremely unclear when you get down to the point of distinguishing between the Preterite of Haber vs the Imperfect of Haber (i.e. what would be the difference between "había comido" and "hube comido"?) The use of the preterite of HABER has been eliminated from modern Spanish. It is likely that you will encounter it in written form in texts over 100 years old, but there is no usage of HUBE + past participle at this point. (This doesn't affect the usage of HABER to express existence--an idiomatic structure completely unrelated to the auxiliary use of HABER + past participle--Hubo un accidente en frente de mis ojos.)
When we arrived, he had already left.
Cuando llegamos, ya había salido él.
They hadn't finished the homework because they didn't understand it.
No habían completado la tarea porque no la entendieron.
The same is true of the future perfect and conditional perfect. The future perfect is used to refer to an action that will have been completed before some future point--hence, it requires two clauses. It could be called the past of the future.
En cuanto llegues, ya habremos salido.
By the time you get here, we will have already left.
The conditional perfect refers to an action that would have been completed after some hypothetical action.
No le habríamos dado el cheque si hubiéramos sabido que el producto era tan malo.
We wouldn't have given him the check if we had known that the product was so bad.
Notice that both the conditional and the future perfect tenses depend upon the usage of the subjunctive.
NOTE: With the usage of the compound tenses, the past participle is functioning as a past participle, and should not be treated as an adjective. (It does not reflect gender or number) When a past participle follows the verbs SER or ESTAR, or it is used as a direct modifier of a noun, it will change to reflect gender and number. This means that past participles following HABER will always end in "O" while those following the verbs SER or ESTAR or directly following nouns will function as adjectives that do reflect gender and number.
Las bananas son comidas por Darren. (passive voice: The bananas are eaten by Darren.)
Darren ha comido las bananas. Las bananas han sido comidas.
For the most part, past participles are very simple to form:
for AR verbs, change the AR to ADO, for ER & IR verbs, change the ending to IDO.
HABLAR--Hablado COMER--Comido VIVIR--Vivido
Grammatically, a past participle can function as a participle when accompanying the verb HABER, and as an adjective in all other uses.
There are a limited number of irregular participles, just as in English:
abrir---abierto resolver--resuelto romper--roto escribir--escrito volver--vuelto morir-----muerto
Also, all of the verbs that end in ER or IR preceded by another vowel need accent marks on the participle in order to break the diphthong into two syllables.
reír---reído oír---oído traer--traído caer--caído leer---leído