Past Participles & Auxiliary Verbs

In this lesson we’re going to tackle one of the most seemingly arcane subjects of the Portuguese language: particípios passados past participles.
What is a past participle? A past participle is a verb form that can be used similarly to an adjective (e.g. “I am interested in that”), or that can be used along with an auxiliary verb to form different verb tenses or use the passive voice (e.g. “The bill has been paid“, “The bill was paid“). Let’s look at a few examples to better understand how past participles are used in Portuguese:
Aquele filme? Já o tinha visto, sim. That film? I had already seen it, yes.
Tínhamos escrito ao professor para lhe pedirmos as notas. We had written to the professor to ask for our grades.
Notice that, in the two examples above, you needed to use another verb before using the past participles “seen” and “written”.

Past Participles and Auxiliary Verbs

Past participles never turn up alone. In Portuguese, as in English, you can’t really use a past participle without a verbo auxiliar auxiliary verb. Auxiliary verbs are sometimes called “helping verbs” because they help express the tense, mood, or voice of the sentence’s main verb.
In the examples above, the verb ter to have is an auxiliary verb.
Sounds complicated? Worry not! When it comes to past participles, there are only five auxiliary verbs you need to know – and you’ll probably recognize them from previous lessons:

ter to have ser to be permanent estar to be temporary ficar to become, to stay haver to have, to exist

Next, let’s explore the rules for using these auxiliary verbs with different types of past participles!

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