In the previous lesson you learned the fundamental difference between ser and estar - essence or condition. The examples used the verbs in conjunction with adjectives to clearly illustrate this point. In practice, ser and estar are not always used with adjectives, nor is it always easy for the non-native speaker to choose between the two verbs. Therefore, it is extremely useful to learn some concrete rules for deciding when to use ser or estar. This lesson examines some common uses for the verb ser.
Ser is used to express the hour, day, and date.
¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
Son las dos. It's two o'clock.
¿Qué día es hoy? What day is today?
Hoy es lunes. Today's Monday.
¿Qué fecha es hoy? What's the date today?
Es el cinco de mayo. It's May fifth.
Ser is used to express place of origin.
¿De dónde eres tú? Where are you from?
Soy de Colombia. I'm from Colombia.
Ser is used to express occupation.
¿Cuál es tu trabajo? What do you do?
Soy carpintero I'm a carpenter.
Ser is used to express nationality.
¿Es ella puertorriqueña? Is she Puerto Rican?
No, es guatemalteca. No, she's Guatemalan.
Ser is used to express religious or political affiliation.
¿Son los García bautistas? Are the Garcias Baptists?
No, son católicos. No, they're Catholics.
¿Es el gobierno socialista? Is the government socialist?
No, es comunista. No, it's communist.
Ser is used to express the material something is made of.
¿De qué material es la mesa? What's the table made of?
Es de madera. It's made of wood.
Ser is used to express possession.
¿De quién es la pluma? Whose pen is it?
Es de Emilio. It's Emilio's.
Ser is used to express the relationship of one person to another.
¿Quién es Rogelio? Who is Roger?
Es el esposo de Marta. He's Martha's husband.
Ser is used with certain impersonal expressions.
Es importante practicar cada día. It's important to practice every day.
Es necesario hablar mucho. It's necessary to speak a lot.
Ser is used to tell where an event is taking place.
La película es en el cine. The movie is at the theatre.
La fiesta es en el club Fantástico. The party is in the Fantastic Club.
Ser is used with adjectives to express inherent, or essential qualities.
Miguel es un hombre sincero. Mike is a sincere man.
También es guapo. He's also handsome.
Let's review. Ser is used to express:
the hour, day, and date
place of origin
religious or political affiliation
the material something is made of
relationship of one person to another
certain impersonal expressions
where an event is taking place
Ser and Estar: Part III
In the previous two lessons you learned the fundamental difference between ser and estar - essence or condition ("what" something is v. "how" something is), as well as some common uses for the verb ser. This lesson examines the other Spanish verb for "to be": estar.
Estar is used to express geographic or physical locations.
¿Dónde estás? Where are you?
Estoy en el laboratorio. I'm in the laboratory.
¿Dónde está Chile? Where's Chile?
Chile está en América del Sur. Chile is in South America.
Note: The one exception to this rule is that ser is used to tell where an event is taking place. (La fiesta es en mi casa.)
Estar is used with adjectives to express a state or condition ("how" something is).
¿Cómo está la sopa? How's the soup?
La sopa está fría. The soup is cold.
¿Cómo estás tú? How are you?
Estoy muy bien, gracias. I am very well, thanks.
Estar is used with many idiomatic expressions. These are just a few.
estar de acuerdo to be in agreement
estar de pie to be standing
estar en camino to be on the way
estar en las nubes to daydream
Estar is used with the progressive tenses. You will learn more about this usage later. We present it now simply because it is an important use of the verb estar.
¿Qué estás comiendo? What are you eating?
Estoy comiendo arroz y frijoles. I am eating rice and beans.
Let's review. Estar is used to express:
geographic or physical location
state or condition
many idiomatic expressions
Ser and Estar: Part IV
In the previous three lessons you learned the fundamental difference between ser and estar -- essence or condition, as well as some common uses for each verb. This lesson presents the two verbs side by side, with the emphasis on contrasting their uses. In the process, much -- but not all -- of the previous three lessons will be reviewed. The practice exercises and the test cover material from all four lessons (Ser and Estar Parts I-IV).
When the verb "to be" is followed by a noun, the verb ser is always used. In this instance, it might be helpful to think of the verb as equivalent to an "equal" sign, such as a = b. This type of sentence is always referring to essential characteristics, since the verb is "linking" what comes before the verb to what comes after the verb.
John is a doctor. John = doctor.
Juan es médico.
When the verb "to be" is followed by an adjective, the verb used depends upon the meaning. When referring to an essential characteristic, use ser. When referring to a state or condition, use estar.
La sopa está fría. The soup is cold.
Los elefantes son grandes. The elephants are big.
When the verb "to be" is followed by an adjective, the verb can actually change the meaning of the adjective.
El profesor está aburrido. The professor is bored.
El profesor es aburrido. The professor is boring.
Distinguishing between origin, location, and "to take place." To describe origin, or where something is from, use ser. To describe location, or where something is located right now, use estar. To tell where an event is taking place, use ser.
Mónica es de España. (origin) Mónica está en Venezuela. (location) La fiesta es en la casa de Mónica. (taking place)
When a noun follows the verb, use ser
When an adjective follows the verb, decide between "essence" and "condition"
To tell where something is from, use ser
To tell where something is located right now, use estar
To tell where an event is taking place, use ser
Let's add another flashcard:
Ser and estar (contrasting uses)
When a noun follows the verb, use ser When an adjective follows the verb, decide between "essence" and "condition" To tell where something is from, use ser To tell where something is located right now, use estar To tell where an event is taking place, use ser