How to Use the Past Participle as an Adjective in Spanish
Did you know that you can use a past participle as an adjective in Spanish?
That’s just one of the many uses of past participles, and today you’ll discover how easy it is to do it.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what the past participle is or even what adjectives are. I’ll explain these terms and others that arise along the way.
By the end of this post, you’ll know what a past participle is, what the perfect tenses are, and how they are formed. You’ll also learn what adjectives are and how they work in Spanish.
Most importantly, you’ll discover how to use the past participle as an adjective in Spanish!
What’s the Past Participle?
The past participle behaves in a similar way both in English and Spanish. It’s a verb form used with perfect tenses.
A Quick Perfect Tense Lesson
What are the perfect tenses?
We use perfect tenses to indicate one of two things:
- A completed (perfect) action or condition.
- A continuous action that’s been happening and is still happening in the present.
Perfect tenses make use of an auxiliary verb. In English, it is “to have,” while in Spanish it’s the verb haber.
Has hablado mucho.
You have talked a lot.
He comido en casa.
I have eaten at home.
Me he quedado en la escuela.
I’ve stayed at home.
Back to the Past Participle
The past participle in those examples are hablado, comido, and quedado. You can easily identify the past participle in Spanish by its -ado and -ido endings.
All -ar verbs have a past participle that ends in -ado:
Hablar (to talk) – hablado (talked)
Comprar (to buy) – comprado (bought)
Besar (to kiss) – besado (kissed)
All -er and -ir verbs have a past participle that ends in -ido:
Comer (to eat) – comido (eaten)
Beber (to drink) – bebido (drunk)
Leer (to read) – leído (read)
Ir (to go) – ido (gone)
Dormir (to sleep) – dormido (slept)
Pedir (to ask) – pedido (asked)
Finally, some irregular verbs end in -to, -so, or -cho.
- Escrito (written)
- Harto (fed up)
- Roto (broken)
- Impreso (printed)
- Hecho (made)
- Dicho (said)
What’s an Adjective?
Adjectives are one of the 8 parts of speech, and they serve to describe nouns. In Spanish, adjectives usually come after the noun they describe.
La casa es roja.
The house is red.
El perro está viejo.
The dog is old.
La ciudad es interesante.
The city is interesting.
Los niños están felices.
The kids are happy.
For a better understanding of how adjectives work, you can read here over 100 sophisticated adjectives in Spanish.
How to Use a Past Participle as an Adjective
After this lesson on past participles and adjectives, it’s time to learn how to use a past participle as an adjective.
In Spanish, just as in English, you can form past participles as adjectives, as long as you remember to match the number and gender of the noun that it’s modifying. This means that for plurals you have to add an extra s, and in the feminine form the -ado and -ido endings become -ada and -ida.
If you follow these simple rules, you can use the past participle as adjective in several situations:
1. After the Verb Estar
This is perhaps the most common way of using the past participle as an adjective. All you need is a sentence with the verb estar (to be) followed by a past participle, and it will work as an adjective.
Jorge está cansado.
Jorge is tired.
María está cansada.
María is tired.
Los niños están cansados.
The boys are tired.
Las niñas están cansadas.
The girls are tired.
Notice how in these examples, the past participle matches the number and gender of the noun it’s modifying. It’s easy to use the past participle as an adjective.
Let’s see examples with some other nouns:
Mis amigos están enojados conmigo.
My friends are mad at me.
Estoy dolido por lo que pasó.
I’m hurt by what happened.
Fernanda está aburrida.
Fernanda is bored.
Tus hijas están emocionadas por el viaje.
Your daughters are excited by the trip.
2. Accompanying the Noun
You can also add the past participle right after the noun, and it works as an adjective.
La casa abandonada asusta a los niños pequeños.
The abandoned house scares the little kids.
Erika harta, se fue de la casa.
Fed up, Erika left the house. (irregular verb)
Dales de comer a los chicos hambrientos.
Give some food to the hungry kids. (irregular verb)
La niña dormida desapareció.
The sleeping girl disappeared.
This last case is a good example of how sometimes the translation in English uses the gerund (-ing ending) instead of the past participle used in Spanish (-ado, -ido). This is due to the differences between both languages, but it doesn’t affect how you can use the past participle as an adjective in Spanish.
Use the Past Participle as an Adjective Today
Now you know what the past participle is and how it works in Spanish. You took a quick lesson on perfect tenses and adjectives. And you learned to use the past participle as an adjective in Spanish, either coming after the verb estar or accompanying the noun.
It’s your turn to put all this new knowledge into practice. Sign up today for a free trial class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers and start using the past participle as an adjective in real-life conversations!
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