Spanish Tense Names

A table of all common Spanish Tense names and English equivalents

There are so many names in use for many Spanish tenses it can be very confusing - even for us! To be consistent, we have adopted one name to consistently for each tense. This table shows the other common names in use, their English names, and examples:

Kwiziq Spanish tense nameEnglish nameAlternative name used in EuropeAlternative name used in AmericaExampleShort definition
El Presente Present Tense, Simple Present   Presente

yo juego, tú comes


Expresses what happens or is happening
El Presente Progresivo Present Progressive, Present Continuous Presente Continuo  

yo estoy jugando, tú estas comiendo

estoy siendo

Describes a present action that is in progress.
El Pretérito Perfecto Present Perfect Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto Antepresente

yo he jugado, tú has comido

he sido

Expresses an action completed but with a connection to the present
El Pretérito Imperfecto Imperfect Past Imperfecto Copretérito

yo jugaba, tú comías,


Expresses what was happening in the past or what used to happen
El Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto Pluperfect Pluscuamperfecto Antecopretérito

yo había jugado, tú habías comido

había sido

Expresses what had happened before something else happened
El Pretérito Indefinido Preterite, Simple Past Pretérito Perfecto Simple Pretérito

yo jugué, tú comiste


Expresses an action completed in the past
Los Pasados Progresivos Past Progressive, Past Continuous Pasado Continuo  

yo estaba jugando, tú estabas comiendo

estaba siendo

Past action in progress (in the past)
El Pretérito Anterior Past Perfect, Pluperfect   Antepretérito

yo hube jugado, tú hubiste comido

hube sido

Expresses a past fact that happened immediately before another past fact.
El Futuro Próximo Near Future    

voy a jugar, vas a comer

voy a ser

Expresses what is going to happen
El Futuro Simple Future, Simple Future Futuro Imperfecto Futuro

yo jugaré, tú comerás


Expresses what will happen
El Futuro Perfecto Future Perfect   Antefuturo

yo habré jugado, tú habrás comido,

habré sido

Expresses what will have happened at some point in the future
El Imperativo Imperative     ¡come! ¡bailad! ¡id! ¡hablemos! Expresses a command, request or advice
El Presente de Subjuntivo Subjunctive, Present Subjunctive    Subjuntivo

yo juegue, tú comas

yo sea

Expresses subjectivity in a subordinate clause
El Pretérito Perfecto del Subjuntivo Present Perfect Subjunctive Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto de Subjuntivo Antepresente

yo haya jugado, tú hayas comido

haya sido

Expresses what has happened or what will have happened
El Imperfecto Subjuntivo Imperfect Subjunctive Imperfecto de Subjuntivo  

yo jugara, tú comieras


Expresses an imperfect action or state in the subjunctive mood
El Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo Pluperfect Subjunctive Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo Antepretérito

yo hubiera jugado, tú hubieras comido

hubiera sido

Expresses an action completed before another action in the past (literary)
El Condicional Simple Conditional Condicional Imperfecto Pospretérito

yo jugaría, tú comerías


Expresses a hypothetical action that would or might happen in the future
El Condicional Perfecto Conditional Perfect, Past Conditional Condicional Compuesto Antepospretérito

yo habría jugado, tú habrías comido

habría sido

Expresses an action that would have or might have happened in the past

 See all Spanish grammar lessons by tense

Note: the word "tense" technically only means past, present or future. The above verb forms are really the combinations of tense and mood (indicative/subjunctive etc) and often aspect (perfective/progressive). Some Spanish grammarians consider "conditional" to be a tense, but can also be considered a "mood" depending on your preferred linguistic taxonomy.
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