Forming the Past Participle in Spanish: examples & exercises

Hello! Welcome to a new lesson on Spanish grammar. On this occasion, we will learn how to form the past participle of verbs in Spanish, a non-personal form of the verb that works as a complement to different grammatical tenses in the language, such as the present perfect and the passive voice. We will explain the rules the easiest way possible and contextualize them with simple examples and grammar exercises. Let’s start…

What is the past participle in Spanish?

The participle in Spanish is a non-personal form of the verb that will often end in the suffixes “-ado/-ada” and “-ido/ida” in its regular form, and with it, we can form grammatical tenses like the present perfect (pretérito perfecto) or past perfect (pretérito pluscuamperfecto) to say things like “He llegado” (I have arrived) or “Yo había dicho” (I had said). The participle will also be used in the passive voice and as a complement to the verbs “SER/ESTAR” (to be) to make sentences such as: “Mi teléfono está muerto” (My phone is dead) and “El libro fue escrito en 1908” (The book was written in 1908)

In simple terms, the past participle in Spanish will require a change on the verb’s ending so that it can be used in grammatical tenses such as the perfect past tense, the future tense, the passive voice and others. The participle in Spanish plays the same functions as in English, and just like in that language, we must know the correct verb conjugation in participle so that the verb itself agrees with all the parts of the sentence.

Forming the Past Participle in Spanish: examples & exercises
El participio en español

Forming the regular past participle of verbs in Spanish

First, it is important that you know that we follow rules when we form the participle of verbs in Spanish, although there are also verbs in Spanish that have an irregular participle. Next, we will explain the basic rules you need to know to form the participle in Spanish:

From -AR to -ADO

Verbs that end in -AR in their infinitive form in Spanish, will change their ending to -ADO. Pay attention to the following sentences:

Escuchar/Escuchado – Yo he escuchado esa canción antes.
Listening/Listened or Heard – I’ve heard that song before.
Hablar/Hablado – Ya hemos hablado sobre ese viaje varias veces.
Talk / Talked – We have already talked about that trip several times..
Observar/Observado – El cometa fue observado en Asia.
Observe / Observed – The comet was observed in Asia.
Encontrar/Encontrado – Ana no había encontrado su teléfono.
Find / Found – Ana had not found her phone.

From -ER to – IDO

When verbs end in -ER in infinitive, they will change their ending to -IDO to form the past participle in Spanish.

Entender/Entendido – Por fin he entendido el tema.
Understand / Understood – I have finally understood the topic.
Comer/Comido – ¿Te has comido todos los vegetales?
Eating / Eaten – Have you eaten all the vegetables?
Vencer/Vencido – Si ganas, ya me habrás vencido cinco veces.
Defeat / Defeated – If you win, you have already beaten me five times.

From -IR to – IDO

Finally, when verbs end in -IR in infinitive, the ending will be replaced by the suffix -IDO to form the participle in Spanish.

Vivir/Vivido – Yo he vivido muchos años en esta ciudad.
Live / Lived – I have lived many years in this city.
Dormir/Dormido – La princesa estuvo dormida por cien años.
Sleep / Slept – The princess was asleep for one hundred years.
Reír/Reído – Fue un buen final. Tú te habrías reído mucho.
Laugh / Laughed – It was a good ending. You would have laughed a lot.

Double participles in Spanish

There are three specific verbs that have double participles in Spanish, that is, a regular and irregular form. These verbs are: Freír (fry), Imprimir(print) and Proveer(provide). Here are some examples of basic sentences with these verbs using their participle in Spanish.

Imprimir – He impreso la tarea / He imprimido la tarea
Print – I have printed the homework
Proveer – Hemos proveído la información/ Hemos provisto la información.
Provide – We have provided the information
Freír – ¿Has freído el pescado?/ ¿Has frito el pescado?
Fried – Have you fried the fish?

Forming the irregular past participle of verbs in Spanish

There are many common verbs that have irregular participles in Spanish. For such verbs, the rules that we presented earlier to form the participle do not apply. For example, the verb “Abrir”(to open) would be conjugated as “Abrido” if we followed the rules, but since “Abrir” has an irregular participle, the correct thing is to say “Abierto”. Similarly to what happens to common irregular verbs in the present tense, you must memorize these irregular past participle forms, and most likely, you will many mistakes as you keep working on this.

Keep in mind that verbs in the participle in Spanish can also used as adjectives when the verb plays that function in the sentence. For example, the sentence “It is open” would not be translated as “Está abrir” (using the infinitive), but as “Está abierto”, using the verb “abrir” in the past participle. Here you have a list of verbs with irregular participles in Spanish, plus some sample sentences with them:

Abrir/Abierto – Está abierto.
Open/Opened – It is open
Componer/Compuesto – Hemos compuesto una canción.
Compose / Compossed – We have composed a song
Contradecir/Contradicho – Ella se ha contradicho varias veces.
Contradict / Contradicted – She has contradicted herself several times.
Cubrir/Cubierto – La ciudad fue cubierta por nubes negras.
Cover / Covered – The city was covered by black clouds.
Decir/Dicho – Me has dicho una mentira.
Tell/Told – You told me a lie.
Descubrir/Descubierto – ¡No me digas! Has descubierto América.
Discover / Discovered – No kidding! You have discovered America.
Deshacer/Deshecho – La bruja ha deshecho el hechizo.
Undo / Undone – The witch has undone the spell.
Devolver/Devuelto – Él habría devuelto el teléfono
Return / Returned – He would have returned the phone
Disponer/Dispuesto – Estoy dispuesto a ayudarte.
To be willing – I am willing to help you.
Escribir/Escrito – A los 10 años, ya había escrito sus primeros poemas.
Writing / Written – By age 10, he had already written his first poems.
Envolver/Envuelto – Alicia había envuelto el gato en una sábana.
To wrap / Wrapped – Alice had wrapped the cat in a blanket.
Exponer/Expuesto – Ese tema fue expuesto por María.
Present / Presented – That topic was presented by María.
Hacer/Hecho – ¿Qué has hecho hoy?
Do/Done – What have you done today?
Interponer/Interpuesto – La denuncia fue interpuesta.
File / Filed – The complaint was filed.
Morir/Muerto – El paciente ha muerto.
Die/Died – The patient has died.
Oponer/Opuesto – Tú te habías opuesto
Oppose / Opposed – You had opposed
Poner/Puesto – ¿Has puesto atención?
Pay / Paid – Have you paid attention?
Posponer/Pospuesto – He pospuesto mi viaje por seguridad.
Postpone / Postponed – I have postponed my trip due to security issues.
Predecir/Predicho – Debimos haber predicho que esto iba a pasar.
Predict / Predicted – We should have predicted that this would happen.
Prever/Previsto – Nadie había previsto lo que podía pasar.
Anticipate/Anticipted – No one had anticipated what could happen.
Proponer/Propuesto – Yo habría propuesto lo mismo
Propose / Proposed – I would have proposed the same
Resolver/Resuelto – Espero que hayas resuelto la prueba.
Solve / Solved – I hope you have solved the test.
Romper/Roto – Tu pantalón está roto.
Break/Broken – Your pants are broken.
Satisfacer/Satisfecho – Estoy satisfecho. He comido demasiado.
Satisfy / Satisfied – I’m satisfied. I have eaten too much.
Ver/Visto – ¿Has visto a los chavalos?
See/Seen – Have you seen the kids?
Volver/Vuelto – ¿Has vuelto a tu país?
Go back/Gone back – Have you gone back to your country?

Interactive quiz:

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