I’ve recently seen the present perfect used for actions in the future.

Example: Bien. Te he llamado porque he quedado con unos amigos para tomar un café esta tarde y he pensado que podías venir con nosotros, ¿Te apetece?

In this sentence the speaker is telling his friend that he and his other friends were planning to meet for coffee later in the day and he is inviting her to join them. Everything I’ve read about the present perfect says that it deals with the recent past or possibly the present. I haven’t seen anything about the future.

The whole conversation can be found at https://www.spanishpodcast.net/shallwemeetinspanish/

I’d really like to get an explanation.

2 Answers 2


"he quedado" refers to a recent past. Although the action arranged (meeting for coffee) is going to take place in the future, the arrangement itself was made in the past.

"he llamado" seems to be the most recent of the three verbs in the present perfect. Many speakers would normally use the present tense, and rather than "he pensado" they would tend to use the imperfect past, or a progressive past. I also would prefer "en tomar café" instead of "para tomar café," which doesn't sound idiomatic to me:

  • Te llamo porque he quedado con unos amigos en tomar un café esta tarde y pensaba/estaba pensando que podías venir con nosotros. (I'm calling you because I 've arranged to meet with some friends for coffee this afternoon and was thinking if you could come (or would like to come) with us.)
  • 2
    Quedar para is by far the most common preposition in Peninsular Spanish to talk about meeting up to do something, but it sounds like that's not the case in LA. Quedar en gives (to me) more of an air of having had a planning meeting that has decided on something (quedamos en que … = decidimos que). The heavy use of present perfect also indicates Peninsular Spanish (te he llamado I interpret the action as the act of dialing which occurs before anyone starts talking, and for he pensado as having had the thought occur to them). Jun 1, 2019 at 23:58
  • 1
    I mention all that because it sounds perfectly natural to me, so I might recommend changing native speakers would normally use to many speakers would prefer Jun 2, 2019 at 0:00

Meaning of quedar

Quedar has several meanings.

Here, it means

3 (to set a date or time)

a. to meet

¿Dónde quedamos? Where shall we meet?

b. to agree to meet

Quedamos en la puerta principal. We agreed to meet at the front door.

c. to arrange to meet

He quedado con mi abogado a las 10 am porque quiero pedir consejo sobre el tema. I've arranged to meet my lawyer at 10 am because I want to ask him for advice on the matter.


Tense usage

How does the usage of the present perfect tense compare to English? Wikipedia provides this guidance (notice especially the last sentence):

The present perfect is a grammatical combination of the present tense and perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has present consequences. The term is used particularly in the context of English grammar to refer to forms like "I have left."

In English, completed actions in many contexts are referred to using the simple past verb form rather than the present perfect.

There are three instances of present perfect tenses in your example. Let's see how they might translate to English:

  • Te he llamado porque he quedado con unos amigos para tomar un café esta tarde y he pensado que podías venir con nosotros, ¿Te apetece?

    I'm calling because I've arranged to have coffee with some friends this afternoon and I was thinking that you could come with us. Does that appeal to you?

We know that the present tense in Spanish can be used to talk about the near future (e.g. La semana que viene regreso a los Estados. Next week I'm returning to the States; Mañana me pagan Tomorrow I'll get paid).

The Spanish simple present tense can be used to talk about habitual actions, routines, things happening now or in the near future, universal truths, facts, hypotheticals, lapses of time, and for ordering in restaurants and stores. (spanishdict.com)

So actually, when Wikipedia wrote

used to express a past event that has present consequences

they could actually have said

used to express a past event that has present or near future consequences.

That's what's happening with the projected coffee date for this afternoon in your sentence.

Regional differences

I speak Latin American Spanish (Mexico). I've noticed that at least some people from Spain use the present perfect more often than is common in Mexico. (I don't know if there are regional differences within Spain.)

For example, I've noticed that friends from Spain would be more likely to say

La carta ha llegado esta semana The letter arrived this week

where I'd be more likely to say

La carta llegó esta semana The letter arrived yesterday

(I'm reconstructing the Spain version from memory so if it's not quite right I hope someone from Spain will correct it.)

Your example would be perfectly understandable in Mexico, but I'd be more likely to express it something like this:

  • Te llamaba porque que quedé con unos amigos de mi grupo de teatro para tomar un café y pensaba que quizás te gustaría conocerlos. ¿Se te antoja?

    I was calling because I'll be meeting up with some friends from my theater group at a café and I was thinking you might like to meet them. You want to? [Does that appeal to you? / Do you feel like it?]

(One slightly tricky thing here is that arranging to have coffee is code language in Mexico for setting up a first date with a romantic interest. So I made a few other little changes to make a more neutral invitation -- as opposed to letting it sound like the speaker is hitting on the other person.)

  • "La carta ha llegado ayer" is not common in Spain. Present perfect is usually used with past actions in the same time unit or the same day: "La carta ha llegado hoy", "la carta ha llegado esta semana", "la carta ha llegado este año", but "la carta llegó ayer/la semana pasada/el año pasado". Also "La carta ha llegado hace dos horas" but "la carta llegó hace dos días", not being the same day. In America the usage of present perfect vs simple past is more similar to English.
    – Pere
    Jun 2, 2019 at 13:29
  • @Pere - Thanks, I'll fix the example. Jun 2, 2019 at 13:36

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