Language Notes: Verbs with Two Past Participles
On your Portuguese studies here on Duolingo, I’m sure all of you have come across the past participle (particípio passado), usually recognized by the ending –do and used in Portuguese, together with the verbs “ter” and “haver”, to form the compound tenses.
That, however, is not the whole story when it comes to the use of the Portuguese particípio passado, for there is a number of verbs that actually have two different past participles, each being used in specific instances according to the auxiliary verb used:
- The regular participle (particípio passado regular), always ends in -ado or -ido, it is not inflected and is used only when the auxiliary verb is ter ou haver (in compound tenses);
- The irregular participle (particípio passado irregular), is irregular in ending, and inflected according to gender and number, and is generally used only when the auxiliary verb is ser ou estar (in the passive voice).
Note: The non-inflection is a product of the auxiliary verb and not of the participle itself: verbs with only one participle will always inflect it when using "ser" ou "estar". (e.g. Elas foram acompanhadas pelos pais, where "acompanhar" is a verb with one only participle, "acompanhado").
This group of verbs with two past participles include, among others, “matar” (matado; morto), “acender” (acendido; aceso), and “extinguir” (extinguido; extinto):
- Depois de ter matado o homem, o suspeito fugiu. After having killed the man, the suspect escaped.
- A mulher foi morta pelo marido. The woman was killed by her husband.
- Ele tinha acendido as velas do meu bolo de aniversário. He had lit the candles of my birthday cake.
- A vela foi acesa pelo homem. The candle was lit by the man.
- Os bombeiros têm extinguido fogos durante todo o verão. The firemen have been extinguishing fires all Summer.
- Os fogos estão extintos. The fires are [have been] extinguished.
In these cases, using the regular past participle with "ser" and "estar" and the irregular past participle with "ter" and "haver" is considered wrong - the two are not usually interchangeable (scroll down to read about a few nuances to this rule).
You have probably encountered most of these irregular forms, which come from Latin, as adjectives (A mulher morta – the dead woman; a vela acesa – the lit candle; o fogo extinto – the extinguished fire); a few of them eventually became used as nouns, with the past participle no longer being used as such (“crucifixo” – crucifix, unused irregular past participle of “crucificar”, to crucify; “rapto” – kidnapping, from the verb “raptar”, to kidnap).
Nuances and Exceptions to the Rule
There are also a few verbs like “pagar” (pagado; pago), “ganhar” (ganhado; ganho), “gastar” (gastado; gasto) where the irregular forms are the ones most used for every auxiliary verb (having generally substituted the use of the regular forms), but with both still being heard in speech and writing (and with a few linguists defending the use of the regular forms at least in tandem with the irregular ones):
- Depois de ter pago a conta, saí do restaurante. After I paid the bill, I left the restaurant.
- Depois de ter pagado a conta, saí do restaurante.
A few other verbs (e.g. “abrir”, “escrever”, “cobrir”) only accept the irregular form for all occasions (aberto, not abrido; escrito, not escrevido; coberto, not cobrido), with the use of the “regular” forms being considered less-cultured and an improper backformation.
- A mulher tinha aberto uma loja, mas esta faliu rapidamente [not “tinha abrido”]. The woman had opened a shop, but it quickly went out of business.
- Ele tem escrito vários romances nos últimos anos [not “tem escrevido”]. He has written several novels in the last few years.
- O homem esteve coberto com água até ao pescoço até ser salvo [not "esteve cobrido"]. The man was covered in water by the neck until he was rescued.
You can find a few tables with the most important verbs which follow this pattern together with the relevant nuances. If you have any doubts, questions, or suggestions, feel free to start a discussion on the comments below or to send me a message.
- Ciberdúvidas da Língua Portuguesa: , 
- Jornal Diário de Notícias: Verbos com duplo particípio passado
- Professor Online
- Recanto das Letras
- Rede Globo
- Blogue “Na Ponta da Língua”
- asterisk (*) - form used both for compound forms (ter/haver) and the passive voice (ser/estar)
- red background - form no longer used (archaic or almost so, existing only through adjectives/nouns)
- green background - most used form out of two still available
- grey + strikethrough - backformation (shouldn't be used at all)
Thank you for your interesting article. I found a list of the so-called "verbos abundantes" and "verbos com duplo particípio" in these pages:
What's the story of "preciso"? In use it often appears to play the role of an irregular past participle of "precisar" but, as far as I know it isn't one. Is it waiting in the wings for promotion?
[Edit: Now you've added the tables this must be the best resource on this subject anywhere!]
Thanks, I was already compiling them into tables and trying to triangulate them, so any links are great to get an idea of how many there are and all the possibles forms.
That's a good question; according to a few readings, "preciso" has the value of an adjective in "é preciso", "foi preciso" (could be substituted with "é necessário"), but for vague statements it mimicks the rules of defective verbs like chover, being mostly used in the third person singular (you can see this behaviour in the verb "falloir" in French, which has the same meaning). http://www.ciberduvidas.com/pergunta.php?id=32389
On EP, the distinction between "precisar" e "é preciso" can also be seen through the use of the preposition -de with "precisar", which can't be used with "é preciso". http://www.ciberduvidas.com/pergunta.php?id=20767
Also, the adjective "preciso" (and the verb precisar) hadn't adquired its meaning of "to be necessary; to need" in Latin (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/praecido#Latin; http://etimologias.dechile.net/?preciso), and since linguists say these irregular forms are based on Latin, I guess that's yet another thing pointing towards it not being a true irregular participle.
So even if we were to conjugate "ser preciso", it wouldn't be precisely equivalent to "ter precisado" in the binary, and I guess that's why it isn't considered to be a past participle (all conjectures, of course).
Thank you for your very thorough answer which must have taken some time to compose. I'm grateful for your insights.
You're welcome. I wasn't sure of it myself, so I was educating myself in the process as well :)
Obrigado! Eu prefiro pensar que há muito pouca coisa que não se consiga descobrir com a ajuda do Google, mas agradeço imenso as palavras :)
I've finished placing the tables in; if you find any errors or if you have any doubts, let me know.
Good job, but I think it would be easier to use if the verbs would be sorted by category.
Thanks for the feedback! That was the idea: something you read to (hopefully) forget immediately afterwards :)