Abrir: Past Participle & Present Progressive

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

In this lesson, we will talk about the verb ''abrir'' ('to open'), focusing on its past participle as well as its present progressive. This will help you understand signs, talk about past actions, or describe what you are doing at the moment.

Introducing the Verb Abrir

What time do shops and restaurants normally open in your country? What about in South America or Spain? Do they have the same timetable there? You will need the verb abrir ('to open') in order to talk about routines or timetables, understand a sign outside a restaurant or shop, and describe a situation that is happening at the moment of speaking.

Past Participle of Abrir

You will normally see abierto, the past participle of abrir, on signs outside shops, restaurants, and any other public buildings in order to indicate that they are open.

We also use abierto when forming the Spanish perfect tenses, like the present perfect. Don't let the ''present'' part of present perfect fool you: it is a past tense that describes an action that happened recently and is the equivalent of have/has + past participle in English. You will only need to conjugate the verb haber ('to have') in present tense for each person then add the past participle abierto to form this tense.

Let's look at the conjugation for present perfect to get an idea of how abierto can be used to describe past actions.

VERB: abrir (ah-BREER) - to open

Subject Pronouns Abrir Conjugation: Present Perfect Pronunciation Translation
yo he abierto eh ah-BYEHR-toh I have opened
has abierto ahs ah-BYEHR-toh you have opened
él/ella/usted ha abierto ah ah-BYEHR-toh he/she/you formal has opened
nosotros/nosotras hemos abierto EH-mohs ah-BYEHR-toh we have opened
vosotros/vosotras habéis abierto ah-BAYS ah-BYEHR-toh you all have opened
ellos/ellas/ustedes han abierto ahn ah-BYEHR-toh they/you all formal have opened

The good news is the past participle never changes! You still need to use the correct conjugation of haber depending on the person and tense, but abierto is here to stay. Let's see how this past participle could be used in a conversation.

Using the Past Participle of Abrir

David has been snowed under with work today. When he finally leaves the office, he remembers that his fridge is completely empty. He wonders if there will be any restaurants open at 10:30 pm. Finally, he comes across this sign:

Translation: Open
abierto

Luckily, he will be able to have some dinner tonight.

David enters the restaurant and asks the waiter: ¿Qué horario tienen? ('What is your timetable?'), and the waiter replies: Normalmente desde el mediodía hasta las 11.30 de la noche, pero hoy sólo hemos abierto por la noche. ('Normally from noon until 11.30 pm, but today we have opened only in the evening'.)

It could be difficult to identify the word abierto with the verb abrir. This is because abrir has an irregular past participle, instead of following the general pattern for participle formation (usually ending in -ado/-ido).

Present Progressive of Abrir

When we refer to an action that is taking place at the moment of speaking, we need to use the present progressive. This tense follows the pattern estar ('to be') + gerund. The gerund helps express the action in progress, and it is normally formed by adding -ando (for verbs ending in -AR) or -iendo (for verbs ending in -ER or -IR) to the stem. Therefore, the gerund of abrir is abriendo.

Notice that it is also possible to use this tense when talking about actions that are happening these days, not necessarily at this very same moment.

Let's see how we conjugate every person.

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