Spanish past participles, how you can use them (A2)

Spanish Past Participles are impersonal forms of the verbs: hablado, comido, apagado, encendido, cerrado, abierto, visto, hecho... that can be used as verbs or as adjectives:

    • He cerrado la puerta – verb (I have closed the door).
    • La puerta está cerrada – adjective (The door is closed).

What is the Spanish Past Participle

In a previous post, we learned how to form participles and to identify irregulars, notice that most participles end in -ado or -ido, there are a few irregulars very they are very common. Make sure you know them well before continuing with this lesson because of today. We are going to focus on the different ways to use them. They are so useful!

Spanish past participles

When to use Past Participles in Spanish

1) Past participles are mainly used in compound tenses. Compound tenses in Spanish consist of the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb “haber” plus the past participle. The past participle does not change for gender or number in the compound tenses.

  • In the present tense of the auxiliary verb “haber” the past participle forms the present perfect tense:

Nunca he visto nada igual (I have never seen anything like this).

  • The pluperfect tense (also called the past perfect) consists of the imperfect of the auxiliary verb “haber” and the past participle (information and function it is very much like the English pluperfect: had done something):

Cuando llegamos ya se habían ido (When we arrived they had already left).

  • The future perfect tense with the future tense of auxiliary verb «haber» and the past participle:

No sé si él ya habrá llegado (I don’t know if he will have arrived yet).

2) Most past participles can be used as adjectives. They can modify nouns directly or serve as predicate adjectives. When a past participle is used as an adjective, it agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies.

Una novela mal escrita (a poorly written novel).

Unos edificios recién construidos (recently built buildings).

Cielos despejados (clear skies).

Luis tiene el brazo roto (Luis has a broken arm).

Sus padres estaban preocupados (His parents were worried).

Mi computadora está rota (My computer is broken).

Las ventanas están abiertas (The windows are open).

3) Past participles, especially in written Spanish, can be used as substitutes for clauses. This is possible in English too, but the English past participle is usually accompanied by the word “having”

Aclarado el asunto, pudieron llegar a un acuerdo (The matter having been cleared up, they were able to reach an agreement).

Terminada la conferencia, los estudiantes se levantaron y se fueron (The lecture has ended, the students got up and left).

4) TENER can be used with a past participle to emphasize the completion of action especially one that required considerable effort. In this construction, the past participle agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to. This noun would be the direct object of the verb in the present perfect. Compare the following pairs of sentences.

He hecho la cena (I’ve made dinner).Tengo la cena hecha (I have dinner ready – I have finished making dinner).
Hemos escrito todos nuestros informes (We have written all our reports).Tenemos escritos todos nuestros informes (We have completed the writing of all our reports).
A ver si ya han reparado los ordenadores (Let’s see if they’ve already repaired the computers).A ver si ya tienen reparadas los ordenadores (Let’s see if they’ve already finished repairing the computers).

Participles exercises

Now it is time to practice what you have learned about past participles in Spanish with some quizzes, but before doing the exercises remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?

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