Forming Irregular Spanish Past Participles Correctly

Some Verbs Have More Than One Participle Form

Man Running along boardwalk, Strait Natural Park, Tarifa, Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain
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Past participles in Spanish are usually formed by changing the ending of -ar verbs to -ado and the ending of -er and -ir verbs to -ido. But there are dozens of exceptions, known as irregular past participles.

Past participles are a type of verb form that is used to form the perfect tenses, and in Spanish (less often in English) they are frequently used as adjectives. An example of a past participle in English is "eaten." It is used to form the perfect tenses "has eaten" and "have eaten." The Spanish equivalent is comido, used to form perfect tenses such as in he comido and había comido.

We could also use these words also as adjectives, as in "the eaten apple" or la manzana comida. Note that when a past participle is used as an adjective in Spanish, it changes in number and gender with the noun it refers to.

List of Common Irregular Past Participles in Spanish

Here are some of Spanish's common irregular past participles. Note how they don't end in -ado or -ido.

Past ParticipleSpanish VerbEnglish Translation
dichodecirsaid, told
hechohacermade, done
muertomorirdied, dead
presoprendercatch, lit, turned on

Compound Irregular Past Participles

Some verbs, also known as compound verbs, can be derived from base verbs by adding a prefix. When a verb is irregular, compound verbs derived from it are irregular in the same ways.

So, since the past participle of escribir (to write) is escrito (written), the past participles of describir (describe), inscribir (inscribe), and describir (to describe), and transcribir (to transcribe) are, respectively, descrito (described), inscrito (inscribed), descrito (described), and transcrito (transcribed).

Here are some common irregular past participles from compound verbs:

Past ParticiplePrefixSpanish Base VerbEnglish Translation
rehechore-hacerrestored, remade

Verbs With More Than One Past Participle Form

Some verbs have more than one past participle. These forms vary by Spanish-speaking region, and in some cases, the past participle being used depends on whether it accompanies an auxiliary verb or an adjective to modify a noun. Otherwise, the forms usually can be used interchangeably.

Past ParticiplesSpanish VerbEnglish Translation
absorbido, absortoabsorberabsorbed
bendecido, benditobendecirblessed
confesado, confesoconfesarconfessed
convencido, convictoconvencerconvinced
corrompido, corruptocorromperspoiled, corrupted
descrito, descriptodescribirdescribed
despertado, despiertodespertarawakened
dividido, divisodividirdivided, split
elegido, electoelegirelected
maldecido, malditomaldecirto curse
poseído, posesoposeerpossessed, owned
prendido, presoprenderfastened
prescrito, prescriptoprescribirprescribed
presumido, presuntopresumirpresumed
proveído, provistoproveerprovideed
soltado, sueltosoltarreleaseed
suspendido, suspensosuspenderhung, suspended

Sample Sentences Using Irregular Past Participles

El restaurante estaba cerrado y no pudimos entrar. (The restaurant was closed and we could not enter.)

El hombre acusado de presunto asesinato fue detenido. (The man accused in the presumed murder was arrested.)

Cuando la chica llegó a la casa y vio los regalos desenvueltos, se enojó. (When the girl arrived at the house and saw the unwrapped presents, she got angry.)

He visto la belleza y atracción de Cuzco. (I have seen the beauty and attraction of Cuzco.)

En términos médicos, la obesidad es descrita como un exceso de grasa corporal perjudicial para la salud. (In medical terms, obesity is described as an excess of body fat damaging to health.)