We are still gradually piecing together the ‘recent past’ tense in Spanish and I finished off the last article with some rather repetitive examples. I am going to start this article with similar, but somewhat less repetitive, examples.

He escrito la carta.
I have written the letter.
Has estado en Inglaterra.
You have been to England.
Ha visto la película.
S/he has seen the film.
Hemos comprado un coche.
We have bought a car.
Habéis leído el artículo.
You (plu) have read the article.
Han hecho sus deberes.
They have done their homework.

These sentences clearly show the changes to the verb ‘haber’ which control the subject of each sentence, that is, whether it is “I”, “you”, “he” “she” etc. who are controlling the action of the verb.

Don’t forget that the same rules apply as before when we want to make the following simple changes to these sentences. We can make them negative by putting ‘no’ at the front (‘no he escrito la carta’ – I haven’t written the letter) and we can form a simple closed or “yes/no” question by inserting question marks and changing the tone of our voice when speaking
“¿Has estado en Inglaterra?”
Have you been to England?

Also, we can extend our “he”, “she” or “they” sentences by naming the subject
“Mi amiga ha visto la película.”
My friend has seen the film.

“Los niños han hecho sus deberes”.
The children have done their homework.

Whilst we are still talking about the recent past, we should mention a couple of words that are often used in this context. One is “todavía” meaning “yet” or “still” and the other is “ya” meaning “already”.

Here are the same sentences inserting these words to illustrate how they are used.

No he escrito la carta todavía.
I haven’t written a letter yet.
Todavía no he escrito una carta.
I still haven’t written a letter.

In case you’re wondering; these two sentences mean exactly the same thing. The only difference is one of emphasis.

¿Has estado en Inglaterra ya?
¿Ya has estado en Inglaterra?
Have you already been to England?

Mi amiga ya ha visto la película.
Mi amiga ha visto la película ya.
My friend has already seen the film.

Mi amiga no ha visto la película todavía.
My friend hasn’t seen the film yet.
Mi amiga todavía no ha visto la película.
My friend still hasn’t seen the film.

‘Still’, ‘yet’ and ‘already’ are tricky concepts to get our head round in English, so you should have fun thinking about these in Spanish!

A variant of “todavía” is “aún”, so we could also say:
Aún mi amiga aún no ha visto la película.

Next month we are going to move on to looking at another use of this “recent past” tense. I’ll leave you to guess what it is. See you then.

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.