Translating el pretérito perfecto

CoraA1Kwiziq community member

Translating el pretérito perfecto

Leaving aside the issue of what you call this tense, I had trouble because I thought that the "perfect" tenses corresponded more closely with English in the sense of use of the auxiliary verb. It seems that most of the examples given show English translations with the auxiliary verb, but not all of them. So what is the difference between "No le dije" and "No le he dicho"? It would seem that the first translates to "I didn't tell him" and the second to "I haven't told him." But the examples seem to conflate the two.

Asked 1 month ago
JohnB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Cora,

I have found this conflation difficult but the Spanish use of past tenses is really interesting and precise, albeit complex. As I understand it, most of the time the present perfect tense seems to be translated as if it were the preterite e.g. No le he dicho .... I didn't tell him; No lo he comido .. I didn't eat it. That said, the perfect tense is used because they want to indicate that the event took place within "this" period - e.g. today [this day], this week, this morning, this evening, this month etc. Sometimes it is translated as I have not told him / I have not eaten it, but I just rely on the translation or hint provided in the exercise to guide me as to their intention, though I would like to know more about when the latter translation is preferred. The preterite tense is used to indicate that the event took place [or didn't] at a time in the past which is now over [yesterday, last week, the day before last, last month, last year, etc]. 

There are tables available called "Marcas Temporales" or time markers which gives a list of words and phrases [like "Ayer ..." has to be used with the preterite because it is completely over, or "Este mañana .... has to be used with the present perfect] which point to which time period is used.

I hope this answers your question. I'm sure the teacher can add to this. Regards. John

InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Cora,

Yes, as John very well explained, the use of the perfect tense in Spanish and in English is not always the same. It is to do with considering the action to be still part of the present (this is the case of markers like "hoy", "esta mañana", "en los últimos meses"...) or to belong to a time frame that is disconnected to the moment of speaking (e.g. "ayer" "el año pasado"...). There is a lesson that explains this will detail, focusing on the type of time markers that is used each time. Have a look.

As an extra tip, always read the hints in each question when you are being tested on conjugations. We give special attention to hints especially when the tenses in Spanish and English differ, because we understand this may cause a bit of confusion. 

I hope this helps.

Un saludo cordial

Inma

Cora asked:View original

Translating el pretérito perfecto

Leaving aside the issue of what you call this tense, I had trouble because I thought that the "perfect" tenses corresponded more closely with English in the sense of use of the auxiliary verb. It seems that most of the examples given show English translations with the auxiliary verb, but not all of them. So what is the difference between "No le dije" and "No le he dicho"? It would seem that the first translates to "I didn't tell him" and the second to "I haven't told him." But the examples seem to conflate the two.

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