Is there are rule when to use opened vs open? I always get confused even though I've been speaking English as the dominant language for more than half my life.
- Is the door open(ed)?
- Which file do you have open(ed) in your editor?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The word open can be an adjective describing the door, or it could be a verb, which can be in the past, future, or present tense. Open in your first example is an adjective meaning "not closed or blocked up." (There are other meanings to open as well.)
The same pertains to the second example. Someone has a file that is open, not closed.
If you did the action of opening the door (or file), then you opened it. If the door opened itself, you can say, "The door opened." Or, you could run away. I'm pretty sure that's the right move, based on what happens to people in films who stick around after a door opens itself.
Under open, Merriam-Webster uses the example to illustrate being in a position or adjustment to permit passage: not shut or locked.
I hope it clarifies.
Open does not refer to any past event, while opened does. Both refer to the same current state, but opened opens the door to an earlier narrative, if you will. The door was once closed*, and someone or something changed it. The use of opened indicates a larger history for the object that open entirely ignores.
*interestingly there is no aorist form of closed
To get briefly technical, open can be considered the aorist aspect and opened as the perfect aspect. (In actuality open is an adjective, not a verb, and English doesn't use the aorist. Nonetheless, I find the aspects interesting and useful.)
Aorist is a past verb form that does not refer to "duration or completion" (NOAD). It can be considered as ignoring the verb-ness of the verb, if we consider the verb the action.
Perfect, on the other hand, is a past form that emphasizes the completion. The verb happened. The use of the perfect does not always specify when the action took place, but we know that it did.
Another example of this divide is complex (aorist) versus complicated (perfect). Here, complex describes the essence of the object, while complicated describes its condition. The object was not always complicated, but has become so: some actor complicated it. The difference of essence or condition can also be analogized to the Spanish ser (essence) and estar (condition), if that helps.
"Open" as an adjective conveys the state of an object while its verb counterpart indicates the action of opening. So in your example,
Is the door open? refers to the state of the door which is not closed.
Is the door opened? can be interpreted as the passive form of the verb open. Here, we are asking if the door is moved from the closed position to the open position by an agent which is not mentioned in the question.
Similarly, your second example could be framed as either,
Which file do you have open in the editor? (adjective) or
Which file have you opened in the editor? (verb)
Note that have in the first question above is a transitive verb and it means to be in a particular state or position. (cf. the 15th meaning of have2)
"closed" can be both an adjective and a conjugated verb: The door is closed. I closed the door. ...while "close" is only a verb (or has a different meaning).
"opened" can only be a conjugated verb: He opened the door. While "open" can be either a verb or an adjective. I open the door. The door is open.
My hypothesis is that these differing usages come from pronunciation habits. I suspect that the distinct pronunciation of 'ed' is more frequently omitted at the end of opened than at the end of closed, due to the position of the tongue (not changing vs changing).
As has already been pointed out in other answers, open characterises the present state of something, without any reference to the past, while opened implies that an act of opening the thing in question took place in the past. To complete the answers, it should be made explicit that, in many contexts, this difference in meaning does not make any practical difference: open door and opened door are, for most ends and purposes, interchangeable, because it is generally reasonable to assume that a door that is open now was, at some time, opened by someone. There are, however, some contexts in which this is not so: an open-plan office normally can't be characterised as an opened-plan office, nor can open-source software normally be said to be opened-source software.