The Present Perfect Tense

present perfect tense

In Portuguese there are several ways to refer to something that happened in the past, each with varying shades of meaning.  The present perfect tense includes expressions like these:

O que você tem feito? ➜ What have you been doing?
Tenho trabalhado tempo todo. ➜ I've been working all the time.
Tenho ligado para você. ➜ I've been calling you.
Use it when talking about action that has been happening (and still is).

This is one of the most difficult tenses to get the hang of for several reasons. Everyone gets hung up on the fact that in Portuguese you don't (generally) use the verb to be to express been as we do in english. If you did it would be estado - and you actually can (and should) use it like this:

Tenho estado cansado esses dias. ➜ I've been tired lately.
This is fine, just a little formal sounding. Brazilians would say something more like, "Eu ando muito cansado esses dias".

The second reason this tense trips people up is that it's unlike other conjugations in that the form is TER + PAST PARTICIPLE.


ter (in the present) + past participle

-ar verbs

I have been working eu tenho trabalhado
he has been woring ele tem trabalhado
we have been working nós temos trabalhado
they have been working eles têm trabalhado

-er and -ir verbs

I have been watching eu tenho assistido
he has been watching ele tem assistido
we have been watching nós temos assistido
they have been watching eles têm assistido

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present perfect tense