The complexity of the pretérito perfeito composto is inversely proportional to its relevance in practice. That means the context where it is used is a little bit hard to understand, but in real life there are only few occasions who match this context. The dominant tenses of the past in Portuguese are the imperfeito and the pretérito perfeito simples. In sharp contrast to Spanish, where we have more or less a distribution of 50 / 50 between the use of the imperfeito and the pretérito perfeito simples, in Portuguese it is something like 90 percent pretérito perfeito simples and ten percent pretérito perfeito composto. (The situation in Italian and French is different. Basically the role of the pretérito perfeito composto is the same as in Spanish, but given that the pretérito perfeito simples is very irregular, it is more and more substituted by the pretérito perfeito composto.)
We already talked about the perfeito composto in chapter 9. However in chapter nine we were more interested in the context in which it is used than how it is formed. From a formal point of view it resembles to any composed tense in most languages. The pretérito perfeito composto is formed with the verbo ter (to have) as an auxiliary verb and the past participle. That suggests that it is used as well as in any other language, that it is used if the action described has an impact on the present of the speaker. However that is not the case. The pretériot perfeito simples corresponds to the present perfect continuous in English, I have been telling you that since two years, and not to the present perfect, ~I told you that since two years. In other words it is used if an action is constantly repeated until the present of the speaker. Whether this action has an impact on the present of the speaker is irrelevant. That seems to be only a subtle difference, however it is a big one. English native speakers see that immediately if they compare how often the present perfect is used and how often the present perfect continuous is used. There are much more contexts where the present perfect is used than contexts where the present perfect continuous is used. To put it very clear: In sharp contrast to other roman languages and English, Portuguese has no tense to describe an action that already has an impact on the present. Whether an action has an impact on the present or not is irrelevant in Portuguese.
This said, the formation is very simple and works the same way as in any other indogermanic language. The pretérito perfeito composto is formed with the present tens of the verb ter and the past participle.
|personal pronoun||auxiliary verb||past participle|
|verbs ending on -ar|
|verbs ending on -er|
|verbs ending on -ir|
|ele ela |
o senhor a senhora
|eles elas |
o senhores as senhoras
|Eu tenho ganhado.|
|I have won.|
|Tu tens esquecido.|
|I have forgotten.|
|Ele tem dormido.|
|I have slept.|
|fazer||feito||Eu tenho feito mais coisas certas do que erradas.|
|There are more things I have been doing well than things I have been doing wrong.|
|escrever||escrito||Muito se tem escrito sobre isso.|
|A lot has been written about this.|
|dizer||dito||Temos dito repetidamente que o texto só precisava de algumas alterações pontuais.|
|We have been saying again and again that only some paragraphs of the text only need to be modified.|
|vir||vindo||Estas tecnologias têm vindo a ser continuamente desenvolvidas.|
|These technologies are improved constantly.|
|ver||visto||Não tenho visto progressos reais, mas considero que são possíveis.|
|I have not been seeing any progress, althoug I believe it is possible.|
|pôr||posto||Não tem posto em prática as resoluções.|
|He doesn't put the decisions into practice.|
|abrir||aberto||Israel tem aberto as portas ao povo judeu disperso por todo o mundo.|
|Israels opens the door for the all the jewish people dispersed all over the world.|
|cubrir||cuberto||Ela tem coberto uma percentagem das perdas.|
|She assumes a part of the loses.|
The use of the pretérito perfeito composto in Portuguese is actually strange. The author doesen't know any language where it is used in this context. In English as well as in any other language, the pretérito perfeito composto is used if an action has an impact on the present of the speaker.
correct: I haven't read the book, therefore I can't say anything about it.
wrong: I didn't read the book, therefore I can't say anything about it.
Whether it is an ongoing action or not, whether the action has been repeated in the past or not, is irrelevant. If that is an important issue, we use the present perfect continuous in English, I have been doing that for years now, or a verbal phrase in spanisch, Llevo haciendo esto desde hace años.
Concerning the present the pretérito perfeito composto corresponds to the present perfect continuous and not to the present perfect. However the thing is still more strange.
In English the past perfect, I had written, is the same thing as the present perfect, but refers to a moment in the past. With the past perfect we describe an action that is relevant for a moment in the past.
1) correct: I had not read the book, therefore I was unable to say something about it.
2) wrong: I didn't read the book, thererfore I was unable to say something about it.
2) means something, although not the same as 1). 2) means that he didn't read the book while other peopler where talking about it. In this case people read a book and meet from time to time to talk about their impressions, but one of them doesn't do it. 1) Means that he had not read the book at all and couldn't say therefore anything about it. An action of a period before the past has an impact on the past. The present perfect and the past perfect have therefore the same function. In opposite to the preterito perfeito composto the pretérito mais-que-perfeito composto has the same function as in any other language. It describes the impact of an action of a period of time before the past on the past. Only the use of the pretérito perfeito composto is different. Concerning the use of the pretérito mais-que-perfeito composto there is no difference.The aspect expressed by the pretérito perfeito composto Portuguese can be expressed in some other languages, although not in all languages. In French, Italian, german this aspect can only be expressed through adverbials like again and again, constantly, several times etc.. In Spanish and English it can be expressed by a verbform.
|Spanish:||He estado trabajando en esto todo el día y todavía no lo tengo listo.|
|English:||I have been working on it the whole day and it is not finished yet.|
|Portuguese:||Tenho trabalhado nisso todo o día e ainda não está acabado.|
|german:||Ich arbeite schon den ganzen Tag daran und es ist immer noch nicht fertig.|
|Já tenho esperado meia hora.|
|I have been waiting for you half an hour.|
"Esperei meia hora" is possible, but the meaning is different. One would say that, if one would talk about something that happened in the past. waiting anymore. If the person he waited for comes after half an hour, he would say to this persons "Esperei meia hora".
Eu tenho feito mais coisas certas do que erradas.
There are more things that I have done well, then things I have done wrong.
If someone wants to say that he can't open the door of his appartment because he has lost the key he would say in Portuguese something completely wrong in Spanish or English.
|the pretérito perfeito simples can be used to describe an action that has an impact on the present|
|English: I have lost my key.
Spanish: He perdido mi llave.
|Perdi a minha chave.|
|Ontem vendeu a sua casa.|
|Yesterday he sold his house.|
If someone has lost his key and doesn't have therefore access to his appartement we have an action of the past which has an impact no the present. We use the present perfect, in other words the construction to have in the present + past participle, in all languages, but not in portueguese. In Portuguese we use a not compound tense, which is used in all other languages, roman languages included, to describe an action which has no impact on the present. That is really a big difference. Once again: The pretérito perfeito composto is used for actions that are repeated constantly until the present of the speaker or beyond this present. Whether the action has an impact on the present of the speaker is completely irrelevant. In English and in Spanish it is the other way round. Whether an action is repeated until the present of the speaker is irrelevant, but the present perfect must be used if the action has an impact on the present.
If the present perfect continuous is in passive voice we get something like "The car has been being maintained carefully". In order to avoid this somehow wired construction we translate with the present tense in the following sentences. To a certain degree the present tense embraces the near past and therefore the present tense can as well describe an action that is repeated continuously until the present of the speaker.
|Muito se tem escrito sobre isso.
(A lot has been being written aobut that. <=> A lot is written about that.)
|A lot means that several times something has been written about the issue.|
|Temos dito repetidamente que o texto só precisava de algumas alterações pontuais.
(We have been saying that only some paragraphs of the text need to be modified.)
|Repentinamente, immer wieder, verweist darauf, dass es mehrere Male gesagt wurde.Repentinamente, again and again, indicates that it has been said several times.|
|Não tenho visto progressos reais, mas considero que são possíveis.
(I don' t see any real progress, but I thing they are possible.)
|The plural, progressos reais, indicates that several times any attempt to make a progress failed.|
|Não tem posto em prática as resoluções. |
(He dosen't put the decisions into practice.)
|Several descisions were not put into practice, again and again.|
|Estas tecnologias têm vindo a ser continuamente desenvolvidas.
(Diese Technologien wurden kontinuierlich weiterentwickelt.)
|Continuamente, continuously, indicates that the action were repeated.|
|Tem feito muito calor.
(It is hot.)
|In this case a trigger word is missing. However it the sentence refers to the weather it is clear that we don't speak about a punctual event.|
|São coisas que eu tenho pensado desde que voltei de viagem.|
|1 a)||I have been thinking about this issue since I returned from the trip.|
|1 b)||I think about that since I returned from the trip.|
|Tenho pensado muito em ti ultimamente.|
|2 a)||I have been thinking of you very often lately.|
|2 b)||I think of you very often lately.|
|Eu tenho trabalhado desde que eu era muito jovem.|
|3 a)||I have been working since my childhood.|
|3 b)||I work since my childhood.|
|obviously refering to the past:||He has earned a lot of money. (Whether or not this is still true, is unclear..)|
|obviously refering to the present:||He earns a lot of money. (It is clear that he still does that in the present.)|
|correct:||I have been sleeping when someone knocked at the door..|
|wrong:||I sleep when someone knocked at the door.|
|Hoje perdi a minha carteira e por isso não pude pagar a conta.|
|I have lost my wallet today and therefore I couldn't pay the bill.|
This is a very obvious example for the present perfect. An action of the past has an impact on the present. However Portuguese doesn't see it like that. They use the pretérito perfeito simples.
|An adverb indicates that the action has been repeated|
|I have been talking with his sister almost every day.|
|Tenho falado com a sua irmã quase todo dia.|
|There is nothing that indicates that the action has been repeated..|
|I talked to him yesterday.|
|Falei com ele ontem.|
|A: Are you hungry?|
|B: No I have already eaten something.|
|not: No, I ate already something..|
|A: Tens fome?|
|B: Não, já comi.|
not: Não, já tenho comido.
|Presente / perfeito composto if the action lasts until the present of the speaker|
|Eu tenho comido cereal no café da manhã por toda a minha vida.|
|My whole live I have been eating crunchy-granola for breakfast.|
|present in portuguese if it is clear that the action is still happening in the present|
|Eu como cereal no café da manhã desde que nasci.|
|I take cereals for breakfast since I was born.|
|Spanish:||Este año ha llovido mucho en Brasil.|
|Portuguese:||Este ano tem chovido muito no Brasil.|
|English:||This year it has been raining a lot in Brasil.|
|Spanisch:||Este año he visitado mi hermano en Paris.|
|Portugiesisch:||Este ano visitei o meu irmão em Paris.|
|Deutsch:||This year I have visited my brother in Paris.|
The fact that we find a lot of strange theories on the internet concerning this issues is irrelevant. The Spanish pretérito perfecto is used if the speaker "feels" that there is an impact on his present, this is for instance the case when he is in the same period of time and we have trigger words like this year, today, right now etc. or if there objectively an impact, "He has broken his arm, he can't drive". Some people who are not really familiar with the Spanish standard / normative grammar believe that the Portuguese do things right and Spanish does it wrong. Beside the fact that wrong or right doesn't mean anything in the context of grammar, it is a matter of fact that Portuguese is the exception. Other languages, not only roman languages but germanic languages as English or german, works the other way round.
This comment is completely wrong.
|Em Espanha dizemos, por exemplo, "hoy he comido arroz" mas o certo seria dizer "hoy comí arroz" porque faz oito horas que "eu comi" (oração acabada, perfectiva). Acho que os galegos quando falam espanhol usam estes
tempos verbais de maneira certa.
|In Spain we say for instance "hoy he comido arroz", I have eaten rice today, but more correct would be "hoy comí arroz", Today I ate rice. I guess the galicians use this tense correctly if they speak Spanish.|
The author of this lines is absolutely convinced that all galicians, the region of north-western Spain, say "Hoy he comido arroz", because all galicians are fluent in Spanish and don't make this kind of fundamental error. (In opposite to French and Italian this is a fatal error in most parts of the Spanish speaking world.) "Hoy comí arroz" is not a little bit wrong, but very wrong, completely wrong in Spanish. Portuguese stems from Galician and it is very well possible that in Galician the pretérito perfeito simples is used even in the case that the speaker is in the same period of time in which the action described ocurred, but Spanish native speakers use the pasado perfecto, the compound tense, in this context. (We put aside the problem that in some areas of South America there is a confusion between the pasado indefinido and the pasado perfecto.)
As it has already been said very often the author of these lines doesn't really care whether the rules of the standard grammar are respected or not. However the assertion above is wrong because the human brain, in general, Portuguese is the exception, wants to represent the reality verbally in a certain way. That is something genetically determined. It is not the result of a democratic decision making progress. In English the present perfect is used as it is used not because all English native speakers decided by majority that it has to be used the way it is used. It is used the way it is used because it is "natural" to use it like that. It is kind of a genetic predisposition. The standard grammar is not really relevant, but the forces behind the standard grammar have to be accepted. The assertion above doesn't give furthermore any reason why it is wrong, it is just a misinterpretaion of the standard grammar.
Summary: The use of the pretérito perfeito composto is difficult. The aspect it expresses is irrelevant in most languages or not expressed with a verbal tense but with a verbal phrase or an adverb / adverbial. For English native speakers however it is very simple. The pretérito perfeito composto corresponds to the present perfect continuous. In Spanish we could construct either with the continuous form of the pasado perfecto, "He estado leyendo", or with a verbal phrase, "Llevo leyendo".
|present perfect continuous:||I have been working on it the whole day.|
|gerundio pretérito perfecto:||He estado trabajando en esto todo el día.|
|pretérito perfeito composto:||Tenho trabalhado nisso todo o dia.|
|Spanish:||Llevo trabajando en esto una semana.|
|Portuguese:||Venho trabalhando nisto uma semana.|
|English:||I have been working on it the whole week.|
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