Using past participle clauses in Spanish

In Spanish we have clauses introduced by a Participio. These are generally time clauses expressing a finished action by saying "once something happens/has happened", "when something happens/has happened" or "having something happen". The action using the participle is seen as having occured before the action in the main clause. Here are some examples:

Terminada la ceremonia religiosa, nos fuimos todos a la fiesta.[Once] the religious ceremony [was] over, we all went to the party.

Aprobado este último examen, ya estoy libre totalmente hasta septiembre.[Once I've] passed this last exam, then I'll be totally free until September.

Dormidos los niños, nos podremos relajar y cenar tranquilos.Once the children are asleep, we'll be able to relax and have a quiet dinner.

Llegado el momento, nos reunimos para tomar una decisión definitiva.When the time arrived, we gathered to make a final decision.

Servidos los entrantes, empezamos a preparar el segundo plato.When the starters [US: appetizers] are served, we will start preparing the main dish.

Note that the participle needs agreement in gender and number with the subject in the subordinate clause, e.g. terminada/ceremonia, dormidos/niños, etc

 

Often you find "Una vez" in front of the past participle as in literally: "Once...":

Una vez recogida la casa, nos vamos al parque con los amigos.Once the house is tidy, [lit: once tidied the house] we'll go to the park with our friends.

Use of the perfect participle

The perfect participle can also be used the same way but this will emphasise more the completion of the action expressed in the subordinate clause:

Habiendo dicho todo eso, se fue y no volvió más.Having said all that, she left and never came back.

Habiendo terminado el trabajo, nos tomamos unas cervezas en el pub.
Having finished the job, we had a few beers in the pub.

Here, the participle is always going to be the masculine singular form.

Sometimes, the subordinate clause introduced by the participle can be interpreted as a "cause", for example:

Superado este primer test, no deberías tener problemas en continuar.As/because you passed this first test, you shouldn't have any problem to carry on.

Habiendo dicho todas esas mentiras, se quedó sin amigos.Having told (because he told) all those lies, he was left with no friends.

Controlado como tú lo tienes, no hay posibilidad de que salga mal.Controlled as you have it (because you have everything under control) there is no possibility for it to go wrong.

These subordinate clauses are generally placed in front of the main clause and they are separated by a comma.

See also Using the gerund to say while [doing something]

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Examples and resources

Terminada la ceremonia religiosa, nos fuimos todos a la fiesta.[Once] the religious ceremony [was] over, we all went to the party.
Habiendo terminado el trabajo, nos tomamos unas cervezas en el pub.
Having finished the job, we had a few beers in the pub.
Superado este primer test, no deberías tener problemas en continuar.As/because you passed this first test, you shouldn't have any problem to carry on.
Habiendo dicho todo eso, se fue y no volvió más.Having said all that, she left and never came back.
Aprobado este último examen, ya estoy libre totalmente hasta septiembre.[Once I've] passed this last exam, then I'll be totally free until September.
Llegado el momento, nos reunimos para tomar una decisión definitiva.When the time arrived, we gathered to make a final decision.
Controlado como tú lo tienes, no hay posibilidad de que salga mal.Controlled as you have it (because you have everything under control) there is no possibility for it to go wrong.
Una vez recogida la casa, nos vamos al parque con los amigos.Once the house is tidy, [lit: once tidied the house] we'll go to the park with our friends.
Dormidos los niños, nos podremos relajar y cenar tranquilos.Once the children are asleep, we'll be able to relax and have a quiet dinner.
Servidos los entrantes, empezamos a preparar el segundo plato.When the starters [US: appetizers] are served, we will start preparing the main dish.
Habiendo dicho todas esas mentiras, se quedó sin amigos.Having told (because he told) all those lies, he was left with no friends.
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