Past participles as adjectives

In Spanish the past participle form of a verb [-ado/-ido form] is not only used with the verb haber to form compound tenses, e.g. El Pretérito Perfecto or El Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto, but they can also act as adjectives.

Have a look a the following examples:

Carlos está obsesionado con el dinero.
Carlos is obsessed with money.

Andrea está obsesionada con el dinero.
Andrea is obsessed with money.

Mis hijos están obsesionados con el dinero.
My sons are obsessed with money.

Mis hijas están obsesionadas con el dinero.
My daughters are obsessed with money.

Notice how we are using the same past participle of the verb "obsesionar" but in each sentence it agrees with the specific subject. (Carlos, obsesionado; Andrea, obsesionada; Hijos, obsesionados; Hijas, obsesionadas.)

It is very common to see these adjectives following the verb estar, as shown above, but they can also accompany the noun they are directly modifying.

For example:

Los niños cansados se fueron a dormir.
The tired children went to bed.

Llegamos a un lugar abandonado, en medio de la nada.
We arrived at an abandoned place, in the middle of nowhere.

La policía interrogó a las chicas arrestadas.
The police questioned the arrested girls.

El paisaje de las montañas cubiertas de nieve era muy bonito.
The landscape with the snow-covered mountains was very pretty.

Remember that there are irregular past participles (e.g cubierto, dicho, hecho) which don't have the regular endings (-ado/ido). See List of Irregular Spanish past participles and Irregular past participles ending in -to/-cho.

Past participles used as adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they are referring to.

Important note:

There are common phrases in English where the gerund (-ing form) is used while in Spanish the past participle is used (-ado/-ido). For example:

Los chicos estaban sentados en el borde de la piscina.
Los chicos estaban sentando en el borde de la piscina.
The boys were sitting on the edge of the pool.

Ella estaba tumbada en el suelo.
Ella estaba tumbando en el suelo.
She was lying on the floor.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Mis hijos están obsesionados con el dinero.
My sons are obsessed with money.


La policía interrogó a las chicas arrestadas.
The police questioned the arrested girls.


Carlos está obsesionado con el dinero.
Carlos is obsessed with money.


Los niños cansados se fueron a dormir.
The tired children went to bed.


Andrea está obsesionada con el dinero.
Andrea is obsessed with money.


El paisaje de las montañas cubiertas de nieve era muy bonito.
The landscape with the snow-covered mountains was very pretty.


Llegamos a un lugar abandonado, en medio de la nada.
We arrived at an abandoned place, in the middle of nowhere.


Mis hijas están obsesionadas con el dinero.
My daughters are obsessed with money.


Q&A Forum 1 question, 1 answer

Dormidos vs. Durmiendos

Would it be possible to use active participle? Are there cases in Spanish when both -ido/ado and -iendo/ando can be used and the meaning remains the same?

Asked 1 week ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hola Emanuel

No,  past participles (-ado, -ido) and gerund (-ando, -iendo) have very different functions in a sentence.

They are not interchangeable in Spanish. 

HOWEVER:

Sometimes we have pretty much the same meaning in sentences using one or the other, for example:

Javier está dormido. (Javier is asleep.)

 

Javier está durmiendo. (Javier is sleeping.)

The first one is using the past participle (dormido), which means that the speaker is referring to a "state" or a "result". The second one is using the gerund (durmiendo) which means that the speakker is referring to the " "process"(the ongoing process of sleeping). 

Imagine this situation:

Someone arrives home and asks "What is Pablo doing?". We would probably reply "Está durmiendo." (not "Está dormido."). However if someone enters the room and sees Pablo, the sentence would most probably be: "Uy, está dormido." (not "Está durimiendo.")

The first sentence offers information about the "activity/process" while the second one offers information about the "result/state" as an adjective.

I hope it makes sense.

Saludos

Inma

Dormidos vs. Durmiendos

Would it be possible to use active participle? Are there cases in Spanish when both -ido/ado and -iendo/ando can be used and the meaning remains the same?

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