Irregular Past Participles

In this lesson, we’ll have a look at particípios passados irregulares irregular past participles in Portuguese, i.e. past participles which behave in a unique and unpredictable way, instead of following the typical rules. Let’s see an example:
Eu abri a janela. A janela foi aberta. I opened the window. The window was opened.
If you are fresh off the previous lesson, perhaps you expected the past participle of abrir to open to follow the rule for -IR verbs, and be “abrida”. Right? But being a mischievous irregular verb, instead of “abrido”/”abrida”, the verb abrir becomes “aberto”/”aberta”! Similarly, if we look at the past participle of fazer to do, to make we get:
O jantar está feito? Is dinner done?
Be honest: since fazer is an -ER verb, you were probably expecting it to become “fazido”, weren’t you?
Why does this happen, you might ask? The truth is, nobody really knows. The bad news: you’ll have to learn irregular participles by heart, since there’s not much of a pattern. The good news: there’s not that many of them! Below we’ll review the most essential verbs that have irregular past participles. Keep in mind that to form the feminine version, you just change the final “o” to an “a”.


aberto opened


coberto covered


dito said, told


descoberto discovered


descrito described


escrito written


feito done, made


ganho won


gasto spent


inscrito enrolled


pago paid


posto put


visto seen


vindo come, came, arrived
Did you notice the verbs marked with an asterisk? Keep them in mind for the next learning note…


  • In the last sentence we are told how to form the feminine but does the “ter” rule still apply to the irregular forms I.e always the masculine?

    • Yes, it does! You’ll only see feminine past participles (regular or irregular) with the auxiliary verbs ser, estar or ficar, because then, those past participles function as adjectives (passive voice) and not as a proper verb form.
      – A porta foi aberta. (The door was opened)
      – A porta está aberta. (The door is open)
      – A porta fica aberta. (The door stays open)
      – Eu tenho aberto a porta. (I have been opening the door)
      – Tu tinhas aberto a porta. (You had opened the door)

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