Cerrar Conjugation: Preterite & Past Participle

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.

How do you talk about timetables and actions or understand signs and messages in Spanish? We will analyze the verb ''cerrar'' in the past tense, considering its preterite and past participle.

Introducing the Verb Cerrar

What time do cafés and restaurants close in your country? And what about pubs? Do you normally close the window before going to sleep when it's hot? When was the last time you forgot to lock your house?

You will need the verb cerrar ('to close') in order to answer these questions, talk about timetables, or understand a sign outside a public place.

Using Cerrar in the Past

Lara and her family are on a road trip. Lara's father is a bit forgetful and can't stop asking them questions:

Padre: ¿Cerraste la ventana de tu habitación, Lara? ('Did you close your bedroom's window, Lara?')

Lara: Sí, Papá. Cerré la ventana. ('Yes, Dad. I closed the window')

Padre: ¿Y tu hermano cerró la puerta del patio? ('Did your brother close the patio door?')

Lara: También la cerró. ('Yes, he did too')

Padre: Ahora no recuerdo si cerramos el garaje. ('Now I can't remember if we closed the garage') ¿Cerrasteis el grifo? ('Did you all turn off the faucet?')

Lara: ¡Papá! ¡Hemos cerrado con llave TODA la casa! ('Dad! We have locked the entire house!') ¡Deja de preocuparte! ('Stop worrying about it!')

Meanings of Cerrar

As you can guess from the conversation above, the verb cerrar means basically 'to close' something. We can close windows, doors or places (cerrar ventanas, puertas o lugares).

However, if we add con llave ('with a key'), it will mean 'to lock'. Moreover, its meaning can be extended to other actions which imply turning a handle or moving and covering (e.g. 'draw the curtains' or 'turn off the faucet'). The following table summarizes these uses:

Meaning Examples
to close cerrar la puerta / la ventana / el garaje ('to close the door / the window / the garage')
to lock cerrar con llave
to draw cerrar las cortinas ('to draw the curtains')
to turn off cerrar el grifo ('to turn off the faucet')
to log out cerrar sesión
to seal, reach cerrar un acuerdo / un trato ('to reach an agreement')
to close, end cerrar un evento ('to close an event')

Notice that we can use the verb cerrar (sesión) with the meaning of 'log out'. If you set up your email account in Spanish you will find this among the options:

Translation: Log out

Preterite of Cerrar

We use the preterite in order to talk about actions which have already finished, or are over. The verb cerrar follows the regular pattern in the preterite, so we will only need to add the corresponding endings to the stem cerr-:

VERB: cerrar (seh-RRAHR) - to close

Subject Pronouns Cerrar Conjugation: Preterite Pronunciation Translation
yo cerré seh-RREH I closed
cerraste seh-RRAHS-teh you closed
él/ella/usted cerró seh-RROH he/she/you formal closed
nosotros/nosotras cerramos seh-RRAH-mohs we closed
vosotros/vosotras cerrasteis seh-RRAHS-tays you all closed
ellos/ellas/ustedes cerraron seh-RRAH-rohn they/you all formal closed

Past Participle of Cerrar

After almost two hours driving, Lara's family decides to take a break and have some snacks at a café they like and which is on their way. However, when they stop by, they see this sign:

Translation: Closed

Too bad! Lara loves their muffins.

You will normally find the past participle cerrado on signs outside cafés, restaurants, shops and other public places to indicate they are closed at the moment, in opposition to abierto ('open').

Also, you will need this participle in order to conjugate another of the Spanish past tenses: the present perfect.

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