Ser y Estar vs To be.

Difficulties in learning Spanish for English speakers I

Spanish language has two verbs, Ser and Estar, to communicate what is said in English with the verb TO BE

And it makes things very difficult. I know.

TIP.  It’s not a trick, it’s an advice: don’t worry too much about it.

When you say: Yo aquí estoy muy bien, you’re using the right verb (estar). ¡Bravo!

But if you say: Yo aquí soy muy bien, you’re doing a mistake. And…? A spanish speaker understands you perfectly. And do you know the reason why learning a new  language? To communicate. In Escribe en Español we repeat it many times: the reason to learn Spanish (or any other language) is to communicate with others

Once this mysterious trick has been discovered, we will learn how to use SER y ESTAR properly.

In general, we can say that the verb SER is used to refer to permanent features and the verb ESTAR is used to refer to temporal features.

María es guapa (she’s always beautiful, every day)

María está guapa (she’s beautiful today because she’s dressed nicely, with make up on and a great hairstyle…)

La piedra es dura (always)

La manzana está dura (that particular apple, although apples are usually soft)

This rule is true but very generic. Let’s see specific examples of the use of SER and ESTAR.

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SER

To be from

Somos ingleses                              We are English

Yo soy de Londres                          I’m from London

Ownership

Este bolso es de Marta                   This is Marta’s bag

Identity

¿Quién es esa chica?                    Who’s that girl?

Es la profesora de español           She’s the Spanish teacher

Definition

Matemáticas es una asignatura   Math is a school subject

Key features

Esta mesa es de madera               This table is made of wood

Time reporting

Son las 7 de la tarde                      It’s 7:00 p.m.

Time and place of an event

El concierto es a las 7 de la tarde            The concert is at 7 p.m.

Quality

La canción es muy mala               The song is so bad

ESTAR

Place

La botella está en el armario  The bottle is in the cupboard

Situation, activity

John está de vacaciones        John is on holidays

Food taste

El pescado está bueno                       The fish is good

Description of a condition

Estoy muy cansado                 I’m very tired


Adjectives that have different meanings with the verb SER and with the verb ESTAR

John es listo                  (intelligent, clever)

John está listo               (ready)

John es aburrido          (boring)

John está aburrido       (bored)

John es despierto         (smart, alert)

John está despierto      (awoken)

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