You probably remember learning about past participles with the verb haber. In English, a past participle is a form of a verb that usually ends in –ed. However, they can take on many different forms depending on what language that verb comes from. In Spanish, past participles are actually extremely common as adjectives. You might just not even realize that’s what they are! We’ll remind you how to form past participles, and then show you some common examples in context.
Forming past participles in Spanish
In order to form a past participle, you need to start with the verb in the infinitive. As a reminder, infinitives are verbs in the most basic form. These are when verbs end in –ar, -er or –ir.
Let’s start with verbs that end in –ar. First, you’re going to take off the –ar ending. Then, you’re going to end –ado. For example, the verb hablar as a past participle is hablado, which in English means “talked.”
Next, looking at verbs that end in –er and –ir, the process is very similar. You’re going to take off the –er or –ir ending, and add –ido. For a verb like comer, it’s going to become comido, or “eaten.” The verb vivir becomes vivido, meaning “lived.”
In context as adjectives
You might be wondering, what makes these past participles different as adjectives? So far, they look pretty similar! The difference is that adjectives in Spanish must do something different- they must agree with the noun they modify based on gender and number.
If you remember the verb haber, you didn’t have to change the participle based on anything; it always ended in –ado or –ido. However, just like all kinds of other adjectives, we need to make them agree with the noun. A past participle that comes after a masculine noun would end in –ado, –ados, –ido or –idos, depending on if it’s singular or plural, or if it’s an –ar, -er or -ir noun. Similarly, if it comes after a feminine noun, it could end in -ada, -adas, -ida or –idas.
For example, I could say la mujer emocionada to say “the excited woman”, or los hombres emocionados to say “the excited men”. Do you see how the endings need to change? It’s just like other adjectives, but we just took it from the verb emocionar. Now that you know this, you can practice with all of the verbs you’re learning!