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Haberlo, Haberte, Haberme

Why does Spanish sometimes use pronoun contractions with Haber? Let’s learn how to use contractions like haberlo and haberte. We’ll get lots of practice with these contractions in real sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


Gracias por haberlo hecho.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to dive into some interesting grammatical things that we haven’t really explored yet. In particular, there’s one sentence structure that uses Haber that’s impossible to form with our existing vocabulary. To show how this works, let’s start with this basic sentence:

We ran after eating.

Corrimos después de comer.

So here we’re applying the preposition de to the infinitive comer. We can replace comer with pretty much any other infinitive. For example:

Corrimos después de llegar.

Corrimos después de ganar.

Corrimos después de jugar.

All right, next let’s revisit how object pronouns work. We’ll stick with the context where we did something after eating, so let’s talk about the verb Comer. This verb is sometimes used with the object pronouns lo and la. So for example, “I ate it yesterday” might be either lo comí ayer or la comí ayer, depending on if we are referencing a masculine or a feminine noun. For now, let’s assume that there’s no named noun, so we’ll just stick with lo by default. So this would be:

Lo comí ayer.

And then sometimes, we’re able to choose whether or not to use comerlo, the contraction. For example, the English sentence “we’re going to eat it” could be either lo vamos a comer or vamos a comerlo. Normally, lo goes before a conjugated verb, such as vamos, but we’re also allowed to put it at the end of an infinitive. So either lo vamos a comer or vamos a comerlo would be correct.

All right, now try it yourself in this next case. I’m going to present an English sentence, and you should try to predict both versions of the Spanish: One with lo before the conjugated verb, and one with lo at the end of the infinitive.

Yesterday we were going to eat it.

Ayer lo íbamos a comer.

Ayer íbamos a comerlo.

So again, in this sentence, either version is fine.

But now, suppose we want to say this:

We ran after eating it.

In this sentence, where can the lo go?

…Well, there’s only one place it can go. In this case, we HAVE to use the contraction comerlo. That’s because there’s no way to put lo before a conjugated verb, because there’s no conjugated verb in the phrase “after eating it”. So here’s the Spanish:

Corrimos después de comerlo.

So in many cases, we have the option of putting an object pronoun either before a conjugated verb or at the end of an infinitive. But when infinitives are used with prepositions, or otherwise used as a nouns, we’re often forced to create a contraction. Here are a few more sentences where that’s the case, and the infinitive contraction has to happen.

We ate the food after earning it.

Comimos la comida después de ganarla.

We left without seeing him.

Nos fuimos sin verlo.

We were glad about meeting them.

Nos alegramos de conocerlos.

So in each of these sentences, we have no choice other than creating the contractions ganarla, verlo, and conocerlos.

OK, and this brings us to the main point of this lesson. What can we do with this sentence?

I wasn’t able to go without having done it.

So I’ll help you out a little. This sentence starts with no podía ir sin, and then it has an infinitive. So if it were simply “I wasn’t able to go without doing it”, it would be no podía ir sin hacerlo. But the phrase is “without having done it”, which is a slightly different meaning. To get this completely correct, we’ll need to use Haber. So how do we do this?

Here’s the Spanish version of that sentence.

No podía ir sin haberlo hecho.

So what we’ve done is we’ve used the contraction haberlo. So just like we’ve done with other infinitives, we’re putting an object pronoun at the end of it. But the weird thing is that we then put the participle afterwards. And this seems to go against something we’ve been saying for a long time… because in general, throughout this whole podcast, you’ve been taught that object pronouns are supposed to go either at the very beginning of a verb phrase, before the conjugated verb, or at the end, attached to an infinitive. But this is the one type of situation where the object pronoun seems to go in the middle of the string of verbs. Here’s another example:

I’m going to have done it.

Voy a haberlo hecho.

So of course it would be correct to say lo voy a haber hecho. But sometimes, when the entire infinitive of Haber is used, the speaker will decide to put the object pronoun right there at the end of haber. Here are a few more examples:

Thank you for having done it.

Gracias por haberlo hecho.

She couldn’t, because of having left.

Ella no pudo, por haberse ido.

You must have(Deber preterite) told her that.

Debiste haberle dicho eso.

She went to school without having done it(f).

Fue a la escuela sin haberla hecho.

She had to have given me that.

Tenía que haberme dado eso.

She got in trouble for having helped you.

Tuvo problemas por haberte ayudado.

Let’s get some practice with contractions that use Haber.

She left your house without having seen you.

Se fue de tu casa sin haberte visto.

Thank you for having given her that.

Gracias por haberle dado eso.

She gave you the project after having seen him.

Te dio el proyecto después de haberlo visto.

You could(Poder preterite) have seen her at the club.

Pudiste haberla visto en el club.

She saw him after having left the supermarket.

Lo vio después de haberse ido del supermercado.

I was sad because of having forgotten about her birthday.

Estaba triste por haberme olvidado de su cumpleaños.

And here’s another thing to know about contractions that use Haber: They’re actually very common with preterites of Deber. Check this out:

I should(Deber preterite) have done it.

Debí haberlo hecho.

So it’s interesting because the construction basically gives us the past twice. First Deber is in the past, and then Haber seems to put it further in the past. But this is a very common structure in Spanish for expressing that something should have happened, perhaps to express regret. Try it yourself in these next two examples, which both use preterites of Deber along with Haber contractions.

You shouldn’t have eaten it.

No debiste haberlo comido.

We should have left yesterday.

Debimos habernos ido ayer.

Next let’s talk about just a couple more important idiomatic things that are worth practicing. Let’s start by revisiting the verb Quedar. We already learned that it’s most often used with reflexive pronouns as the verb Quedarse, which means “to stay”. But sometimes it’s used without a reflexive pronoun to mean that something “remains” or “is left over”. Let’s hear one example of each.

We stayed there for a month.

Nos quedamos allí por un mes.

There were only two boxes left.

Sólo quedaban dos cajas.

This verb actually has yet another meaning, specifically when it’s used along with indirect objects. Check out this sentence:

This outfit suits her very well.

Este traje le queda muy bien.

So what we’re saying is that something is well suited to something or someone. And this is a great example of how the type of object pronoun you use can sometimes completely change the meaning of a Spanish verb. When Quedar is used with reflexive objects, it means “to stay”. But with indirect objects, it means “to suit” or “to be well suited”. Here are some more examples:

Do you think that this color will suit it well?

¿Crees que este color le quedará bien?

Do you think that this suits him well?

¿Crees que esto le queda bien?

I guess that object suits the living room well.

Supongo que ese objeto le queda bien a la sala.

Let’s get some practice with this use of Quedar.

Those clothes don’t suit you well.

Esa ropa no te queda bien.

Things exist that suit him well.

Existen cosas que le quedan bien.

The salt suits the food well.

La sal le queda bien a la comida.

That table suits the room well.

Esa mesa le queda bien al cuarto.

She misses the clothes she had in college, they suited her well.

Extraña la ropa que tenía en la universidad, le quedaba bien.

Our last idiom for today is a complex one, and it actually uses a new word, través. This is spelled t-r-a-v-e-s, with an accent on the E. Través. Technically this is a masculine noun, but you’ll almost never use it except in the idiom a través de, which means something like “across”, indicating direction or movement. For example:

We had to go by train across the state.

Tuvimos que andar en tren a través del estado.

So in this case, a través de is used to mean “across”. But sometimes it’s actually translated as “through”. For example:

We watched it through the window.

Lo miramos a través de la ventana.

Of course, we’ve previously translated phrases like this as por la ventana. And very often, a través de is simply a synonym for por; often either translation into Spanish would work. To make this easier, we’ll focus on translating a través de as either “across” or “via”. For example:

I saw it via the window.

Lo vi a través de la ventana.

One other weird thing about this idiom is that it’s often used with Ser. Check out this sentence:

The exit is via the back door.

La salida es a través de la puerta trasera.

So notice that we say that the exit es via the back door, not está via the back door. That’s because we’re not actually talking about the location, we’re talking about the manner of exiting. The way that you exit es through the back door.

Here’s another example that seems even more strange:

Don’t you know how to get there? It’s across the street.

 ¿No sabes cómo llegar ahí? Es a través de la calle.

So here, once again, we’re saying that the way to get there es a través de la calle. It ALMOST sounds like we’re using Ser to describe something’s location, but that’s only because what we’re describing is how to get somewhere, which sometimes involves Ser in this way.

Let’s get some practice with a través de.

I can see it via the window.

Puedo verlo a través de la ventana.

I forgot she was walking across the city.

Olvidé que estaba andando a través de la ciudad.

You can get to the library via this street.

Puedes llegar a la biblioteca a través de esta calle.

The entrance is across the street.

 La entrada es a través de la calle.

You can give it to her via her friends.

Se lo puedes dar a través de sus amigos.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/243. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

I miss that restaurant now that I’m in prison.

Extraño ese restaurante ahora que estoy en prisión.

They aren’t here, you must(Deber present) have dreamt them.

No están aquí, debes haberlos soñado.

She left school without having done it.

Se fue del colegio sin haberlo hecho.

He is in trouble for having told her.

Está en problemas por haberle dicho.

Forget about the bar, we need to go to the bank.

Olvídate del bar, necesitamos ir al banco.

You miss it because it fit you well.

Lo extrañas porque te quedaba bien.

If she forgets it, she might not wake up on time.

Si lo olvida, puede no despertarse a tiempo.

I’m really glad for having left.

Me alegro de haberme ido.

Sometimes I forget that this could exist.

A veces olvido que esto podría existir.

Don’t forget that I always dream about it.

No olvides que yo siempre sueño con ello.

My friend is sad for having seen you.

Mi amigo está triste por haberte visto.

She forgets that the entrance is via the door.

Olvida que la entrada es a través de la puerta.

You could(preterite) have told us that.

Pudiste habernos dicho eso.

I should(Deber preterite) have known about it.

Debí haberlo sabido.

I would wish not to have dreamt it.

Desearía no haberlo soñado.

He forgot that it doesn’t fit her well.

Olvidó que no le queda bien.

I want her to forget having given you that.

Quiero que olvide haberte dado eso.

It might be that you forget how to get to the store.

Puede que olvides cómo llegar a la tienda.

You can’t forget how to get to the station, it’s across the street

No puedes olvidar cómo llegar a la estación, es a través de la calle.

(Formal) Don’t forget that you have to go to the market!

¡No olvide que tiene que ir al mercado!

She wants me to forget that she’s in jail.

Quiere que olvide que está en la cárcel.

It makes me glad to have left.

Me alegra haberme ido.

Forget it! If she doesn’t wake up, we won’t go to church.

¡Olvídalo! Si no se despierta, no iremos a la iglesia.

I wake up early because the clock exists.

Me despierto temprano porque el reloj existe.

She ate after having stayed.

Comió después de haberse quedado.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/243.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn the words for the days of the week and the months of the year.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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