Spanish Grammar For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

Spanish verbs fall into different groups, and each group is conjugated a little differently. Haber (ah-bvehr) (to have) is used only with compound tenses. It serves as a helping verb that completes an action; the action is expressed with the past participle. With the addition of haber, a verb in the past tense becomes more past, a conditional statement can be completed, and a future action can be finished. Haber turns did into had done, would into would have, and will into will have.

Haber is a verb that sometimes acts like a regular -er verb, and other times it acts like an irregular verb. All seven tenses of haber are included here to aid your understanding of compound tenses.

When you add a past participle to the present tense of haber, you form the present perfect tense. Here’s haber conjugated in the present tense:

The Present Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo he I have
tú has You (informal) have
él/ella/ello/uno ha He/she/one has
usted ha You (formal) have
nosotros hemos We have
vosotros habéis You all (informal) have
ellos/ellas han They have
ustedes han You all (formal) have

The following examples show you haber in action in the present perfect tense:

  • Ella ha sido mi major amiga hace mucho tiempo. (She has been my best friend for a long time.)

  • Yo he leído aquel libro diez veces. (I have read that book ten times.)

The preterit tense of haber is used to form the preterit perfect tense of any verb. Haber has an irregular conjugation in the preterit tense, so you need to memorize the conjugations in the following table:

The Preterit Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo hube I had
tú hubiste You (informal) had
él/ella/ello/uno hubo He/she/one had
usted hubo You (formal) had
nosotros hubimos We had
vosotros hubisteis You all (informal) had
ellos/ellas hubieron They had
ustedes hubieron You all (formal) had

You use haber in the preterit perfect tense like this:

  • Una vez que hubimos visto toda la película, salimos del cine. (Once we had seen all of the movie, we left the theater.)

  • Tan pronto como ellos hubieron terminado el trabajo, recibieron el dinero. (As soon as they had finished the work, they received the money.)

The imperfect tense of haber is used to form the pluperfect tense of any verb. It follows the regular conjugation for -er verbs in the imperfect. Here’s how it’s conjugated:

The Imperfect Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo había I used to have
tú habías You (informal) used to have
él/ella/ello/uno había He/she/one used to have
usted había You (formal) used to have
nosotros habíamos We used to have
vosotros habíais You all (informal) used to have
ellos/ellas habían They used to have
ustedes habían You all (formal) used to have

Here are some examples of the pluperfect tense:

  • Él nos había llamado antes de la fiesta. (He had called before the party.)

  • Los estudiantes habían practicado por dos horas antes del partido de fútbol. (The students had practiced two hours before the soccer game.)

When you get to the present perfect tense, you use the future tense of haber, and this is one time when haber decides to conjugate irregularly. The stem morphs into habr-, and then you add the regular future verb endings. The following chart shows you how it’s done.

The Future Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo habré I will have
tú habrás You (informal) will have
él/ella/ello/uno habrá He/she/one will have
usted habrá You (formal) will have
nosotros habremos We will have
vosotros habréis You all (informal) will have
ellos/ellas habrán They will have
ustedes habrán You all (formal) will have

The following samples put the future perfect tense to work:

  • Ella habría enseñado por trienta y cinco años para el fin de este año. (She will have taught for 35 years at the end of this year.)

  • Los estudiantes habrán vendido todas las galletas dulces para el viernes. (The students will have sold all of the cookies by Friday.)

The conditional tense of haber is used to form — what else? — the conditional perfect tense. The great thing about this is that if you’ve mastered the future tense of haber, the conditional tense should be a piece of cake. Why? Because you use the irregular verb stem habr- and add the conditional verb endings. Here’s how it goes:

The Conditional Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo habría I would have
tú habrías You (informal) would have
él/ella/ello/uno habría He/she/one would have
usted habría You (formal) would have
nosotros habríamos We would have
vosotros habríais You all (informal) would have
ellos/ellas habrían They would have
ustedes habrían You all (formal) would have

The following samples use the conditional perfect tense:

  • Felipe habría gastado más dinero si lo tuviera. (Felipe would have spent more money if he’d had it.)

  • Nuestro equipo habría ganado, pero los dos mejores jugadores estaban enfermos. (Our team would have won, but our two best players were sick.)

The present perfect subjunctive tense relies on haber conjugated in the present subjunctive. The following table shows the present subjunctive conjugation of haber:

The Present Subjunctive Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo haya I may have
tú hayas You (informal) may have
él/ella/ello/uno haya He/she/one may have
usted haya You (formal) may have
nosotros hayamos We may have
vosotros hayaís You all (informal) may have
ellos/ellas hayan They may have
ustedes hayan You all (formal) may have

The following samples illustrate how the present perfect subjunctive tense works:

  • Espero que ellos hayan terminado su trabajo a tiempo. (I hope that they have finished their work on time.)

  • El entrenador no está seguro de que su equipo haya practicado suficiente. (The coach isn’t sure that his team has practiced enough.)

The pluperfect subjunctive tense uses the imperfect tense of haber. Don’t forget to switch the stem to hub-. Check out the following chart to see how the conjugation goes:

The Imperfect Tense of Haber
Conjugation Translation
yo hubiera I would have
tú hubieras You (informal) would have
él/ella/ello/uno hubiera He/she/one would have
usted hubiera You (formal) would have
nosotros hubiéramos We would have
vosotros hubierais You all (informal) would have
ellos/ellas hubieran They would have
ustedes hubieran You all (formal) would have

Here are some example sentences using the pluperfect subjunctive tense:

  • Ella no estaba segura de que ellos hubieran comprador el tamaño correcto. (She wasn’t sure that they had bought the correct size.)

  • Ellos esperaban que el paquete hubiera llegado. (They hoped that the package had arrived.)

About This Article

This article can be found in the category: