Past Participles

See also: Perfect Tenses

A past participle is not a tense, but a form of a verb which comes in handy in two situations: used by itself as an adjective and used with the verb haber to form a "perfect tense" conjugation. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

We have past participles in English. They often are forms of verbs ending in "-ed" but there are many irregulars:

drawn, divided, eaten, insisted, played, understood

Regular Past Participles

To form the past participle in Spanish, we add "-ado" to the stem of "-ar" verbs and "-ido" to the stems of "-er" and "-ir" verbs. Some examples:

dibujar (to draw)
comer (to eat)
comprender (to understand)
dividir (to divide)
insistir (to insist)
jugar (to play)

dibujado (drawn)
comido (eaten)
comprendido (understood)
dividido (divided)
insistido (insisted)
jugado (played)

Irregular Past Participles

There are about a dozen irregulars you should know:

abrir (to open)
decir (to say, to tell)
escribir (to write)
cubrir (to cover)
hacer (to make, to do)
morir (to die)
poner (to put)
resolver (to resolve)
romper (to break)
ver (to see, to watch)
volver (to return)

abierto (opened)
dicho (said, told)
escrito (written)
cubierto (covered)
hecho (made, done)
muerto (died)
puesto (put)
resuelto (resolved)
roto (broken)
visto (seen, watched)
vuelto (returned)

Verbs based on any of the verbs above will also have the same irregularities:

descubrir (to discover)

descubierto (discovered)

If, after you remove the ending, the stem ends in a vowel, you will need to add an accent mark to avoid creating a diphthong and changing the pronunciation. (This rule does not apply to "-guir" verbs):

creer (to believe)
leer (to read)
traer (to bring)

creído (believed)
leído (read)
traído (brought)

So how and when do we used past particples?

Using Past Participles as Adjectives

Many of the adjectives you already know and love are actually past participles:

aburrido (bored), cansado (tired), divertido (fun, amusing)

We can take most any verb and change it into an adjective by changing it into a past participle and then making it agree in gender and in number with the noun it modifies. Therefore the adjective endings will look like this:





-ado / -ido

-ados / -idos


-ada / -ida

-adas / -idas

Irregular verbs will follow a similar pattern.

Some examples:

Note: Past participles used as adjectives are frequently used with a form of the verb estar to take about the condition of something.

El aire de la ciudad está contaminado.
La torre está situada cerca de la frontera.
Las mesas hechas en Mexico son muy bonitas.

"The air of the city is polluted" -- "contaminado" agrees in gender and in number with "el aire," the noun it modifies. "The tower is situated near the border" -- "situada" agress with the feminine, singular "la torre." "The tables made in México are very beautiful" -- "hechas" is feminie and plural to agree with "las mesas."

What else can we do with the past participle?

Using Past Participles Perfect Tenses

See also: Perfect Tenses

Past participles are also a necessary ingredient in forming perfect tenses such as: "I have seen the movie," "I had overslept," "I will have had six meetings," and "I would have left." Read all about it at Perfect Tenses.

Corrections? Suggestions?

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