Predicative adjective

Predicative adjective


I understand the use of the past participle to form the compound (or perfect) tense - ie the auxillary verb (haber) + the past participle (-ado / - ido), but I am a bit confused with this sentence:

Creo que un hueso estuvo atascado en la garganta de su perro.

"atascado" - doesn't use the auxillary verb haber. Instead it is using estar. Does this mean that atascado is an adjective? I cannot see how it is an adjective. Is it because it is linked with estar? Is it called a "predicative adjective" or is it called something else?

I thought you only used the past participle (-ado / -ido) with an auxillary verb. Can you also use the past participle with estar & ser? Is this when it is used as an adjective?

I am happy to do more research to understand this, but need to be put in the right direction. Is there a term (eg Predicative Adjective) that I need to research or do I just need to know that past participles can be used with haber, ser & estar.

Thanking you.

updated ENE 13, 2010
posted by ChristineX

2 Answers


The principle auxiliary verbs of Spanish are haber, ser and estar.

You seem somewhat familiar with haber so the general formulas for ser is:

Ser + past participle forms the passive voice

Estar can function as the auxiliary in forming the progressive tense, but this requires estar + gerund.

Creo que un hueso estuvo atascando en la garganta de su perro.

I think that a bone was sticking in your dog's throat

However, as qfreed has so kindly pointed out (see the third link he provided), atascado can indeed act as a predicate adjective to indicate the bones condition (i.e. stuck):

Creo que un hueso estuvo atascado en la garganta de su perro.

I think that a bone was stuck in your dogs throat

Tener and ir are used occasionally as auxiliaries.

Tener sometimes takes the place of haber as a more emphatic auxiliary

As in:

Tengo dicho

I have said (i.e. authoritatively)

Ir is sometimes used in place of estar in forming the progressive tense

va creciendo

it is growing (i.e. keeps on growing)

updated AGO 30, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1

estuvo atascando sounds more like "was sticking" rather than "was stuck". I think that you are reaching.

See section 2: passive voice with ser or estar

estar+past participle

more estar + past participle

yet another on these adjectives

And yes, these look the same to me as a predicate adjective.

Just a thought: if this wasn't a predicate adjective, but some weird verb form like the past progressive construction would the verb not have to be atascarse.

updated AGO 30, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
you are correct being that it is the gerund; I'm not sure what you mean by I am reaching though - Izanoni1, AGO 30, 2009
I mean that it is not atascando. You are reaching in the fact that you are trying to explain why it cant be estar+past participle, but would have to be ser+past particiole. - 0074b507, AGO 30, 2009
Thanks for the clarification - Izanoni1, AGO 30, 2009
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