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Past Participles

The past participle is used almost identically in Spanish as it is in English, frequently as part of the Perfect Tenses, but often they are used as an adjective. Many past participles in English are formed by adding -ed or -en to the infinitive, but there are a great many irregular forms as well. Some examples of the past participle in English are:

  • to lift → lifted
  • to rent → rented
  • to sit → seated
  • to eat → eaten
  • to beat → beaten
  • to go → gone
  • to read → read
  • to do → done
  • to work → wrought (seriously, this is the actual past participle of to work!)
  • to buy → bought

Formation of the Past Particple of Regular Verbs

To form the regular past participle of -ar verbs, drop the -ar of the infinitive and substitute -ado.

To form the regular past participle of -er and -ir verbs, drop the -er or -ir of the infinitive and add -ido. Thus:

  • hablar → habl → hablado
  • caminar → camin → caminado
  • comer → com → comido
  • vivir → viv → vivido

Irregular Past Participles

There are 13 fairly commonly used irregular past participles in Spanish. They follow no particular pattern and so must simply be memorized.

Download a Studies.app archive of the common irregular past participles

Verb Past Participle Equivalent
abrir abierto opened
cubrir cubierto covered
decir dicho said, told
escribir escrito written
freír frito fried
hacer hecho done, made
imprimir impreso printed
morir muerto died
poner puesto put, placed
romper roto broken
resolver resuelto resolved, solved
ver visto seen
volver vuelto returned

In addition to the above irregular past participles, any verb formed with a prefix and one of the above will also be irregular. For example:

  • componer → compuesto
  • descomponer → decompuesto
  • describir → descrito
  • descubrir → descubierto
  • deshacer → deshecho
  • devolver → devuelto
  • imponer → impuesto
  • satisfacer → satisfecho
  • refreír → refrito

“Gotcha” Past Participles with an accent

There are a number of verbs that are basically regular in the formation of the past participle, but you have to remember to add an accent to get the correct pronunciation. All -er and -ir verbs whose stem ends in a strong vowel (a, e, o) will add an accent to the -ido, thus, -ído. Some examples are:

Verb Stem Past Participle
caer ca- caído
oír o- oído
creer cre- creído
leer le- leído
traer tra- traído
poseer pose- poseído