First of all we will go through your homework, which I trust you have all worked hard on. It was to create the Past Participles of a list of verbs. The verbs were all regular, which means that all that was required was to change the “– ar” ending to “-ado” and the “-er” and “-ir” endings to “-ido”. Here are the verbs with the answers:
Trabajar – trabajado
Cocinar – cocinado
Bailar – bailado
Aprender – aprendido
Comer – comido
Firmar – firmado
Visitar – visitado
Tener – tenido
Comprar – comprado
Conducir – conducido
Ir – ido
Cambiar – cambiado
The one that might have made you think twice was “Ir – ido”, but as you can see it actually behaves itself as an ordinary regular verb, which makes a change. As I said in the last article, the vast majority of verbs behave in this way, but there are a few that were different, or irregular which I listed for you.
The promise last month was to talk more about the words that translate as ‘have’ or ‘has’ in sentences like:
He hablado con mi vecino.
I have spoken to my neighbour.
Has escrito una carta.
You have written a letter.
Ha dormido bien.
He has slept well
Firstly I want to remind you of a principle that we have to learn right at the beginning of our Spanish studies and that is that you cannot translate words literally from one language to another. The reason I say this now is because a lot of people would automatically assume that ‘I have’ should be translated as ‘tengo’, ‘you have’ as ‘tienes’ and so on. However, ‘tengo’, ‘tienes’ and the other forms of the verb ‘tener’ relate principally to ideas of possession.
‘Tengo una casa’ (I have a house).
There are other uses of ‘tener’ such as ‘Tengo una idea’ (I have an idea) or ‘He tenido un accidente’ (I have had an accident) which do not strictly refer to ‘possession’, but have related meanings and require the use of ‘tener’ as the main verb in the sentence.
However, when we say ‘I have spoken’, we are not talking about possessing anything. We don’t own something called ‘spoken’! It is clear that the word ‘have’ in English has an entirely different meaning in this context. In fact, rather than talking about possession or similar, it is being used specifically to create the time in which something happened.
If you think about the meaning of the two phrases: ‘I speak’ and ‘I have spoken’, you should realize that the only difference between them is to do with time – when the speaking was being done. Therefore, the word ‘have’, as well as expressing possession, is also a word that helps us to form a Past Tense of a verb. It is really quite reasonable to assume that when expressing this idea in Spanish a completely different word has to be used.
To translate ‘have’ in this meaning, we use parts of the verb ‘haber’ as follows:
‘he’ (I have)
‘has’ (you have – familiar)
‘ha’ (he or she has, you have – formal)
‘hemos’ (we have)
‘habéis’ (you have – plural)
‘han’ (they have)
That is the basic explanation of how we translate ‘have’ with Past Participles to form the tense of a verb. However, it might need a bit of time to digest and there is plenty more to say, so we’ll take it slowly, step by step.
Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.