Posted by: janecronin | October 22, 2017


“Abrir” means “to open” and is used in all the usual ways we use “to open” in English, that is, referring to doors, windows, shops and your mouth.  Grammatically is it completely regular apart from the past participle (opened, as in “I have opened”) which is “abierto” (if it were regular it would be “abrido”).  So, for example, “they have opened the doors” would be “han abierto las puertas”.

As with many other past participles, “abierto” can also have the function of an adjective, that is, the describing word “open”.  As you may know, adjectives in Spanish change their endings to agree with masculine or feminine and singular or plural nouns.  This means that if we turn our sentence around from “they have opened the doors” to “the doors are open”, this would be “las puertas están abiertas”, changing “abierto” to “abiertas” to agree with the feminine plural noun “puertas”.

The adjective “abierto” also means “open” in the sense of “out-going” or “extrovert”.  This is not the same as the English idea of “open” meaning “liberal or open-minded”, it simply means someone who is sociable and will talk to anyone and everyone.  “Mi padre es muy abierto” therefore means “my father is very sociable and outgoing” and not “my father is very open-minded”.

A form of the word “abrir”, namely “abre” is sometimes combined with other words to describe particular implements.  For example, “abrebotellas” is, surprise, surprise, a bottle-opener, whilst “abrelatas” is a tin opener.   When you buy pre-wrapped food such as sliced cheese or ham from the supermarket you sometimes see printed in the corner “abrefácil” which means “easy opening”.  Whenever I see that I know I’m destined for ten minutes of pulling and biting and will end up using the scissors, as I would have done in the first place!

You’ll definitely hear the command at the dentist “abre la boca” although mostly you do that without being told.  However, in my case, I seem to get a lot of “abre un poco más” (open a bit more) which is when they want me to dislocate my jaw for their convenience.

One of my favourite compound words going back to another form of “abrir” is “boquiabierto”.  “Boqui-“ here is a form of the word “boca” (mouth) so the word means “open-mouthed”.  “Su respuesta me dejó boquiabierta” (His answer left me open-mouthed). I do prefer the word “open-mouthed” to “gob-smacked” but I think that´s just a sign of my age.  Notice that as I’m writing about myself in the feminine I have again changed the ending to an “a”, since “boquiabierto” is also an adjective.

Other phrases with “abierto” are “a cielo abierto”, meaning “open cast” as in mining or “roofless” as in a building and “mar abierto” means “open or high seas”.  If you are a “libro abierto” then you’re the kind of person who shows what they are thinking by the expression on their face, in other words “an open book”.

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