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When to use the verb "Ser" and when to use "Estar"

 

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  #51  
Old August 29, 2011, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laepelba View Post
Tell me - you use "estar" with "muerto", but you use "ser" with "calvo", right? "Está muerto ese hombre." "Es calvo ese hombre." Right?
Yes. But, you can say "¡Eres hombre muerto!" for example. (You are a dead man!)

And you can also say "Ese hombre está calvo". Yesterday his head was full of hair but he shaved it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laepelba View Post
Setting aside any possible jokes that can be made here ... it has made sense to me that death is the end of a process, thus the use of "estar". But isn't baldness the end of a process in the same way, too?
Please read the following: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/7690/ser-estar


And again, I recommend you to transcribe from Spanish to Spanish and then translate to English, just aiming to understand what's being said. I think you are so advanced in Spanish that you can just use only a Spanish - Spanish dictionary, and if you still don't understand the definition of a word, then use a bilingual dictionary.

Then, you are going to fully understand these elusive rules.

And it isn't a joke.
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  #52  
Old August 29, 2011, 11:32 AM
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You don't always say "estar calvo". If you use attributes like "calvo", "gordo", "flaco", "viejo", etc., the choice between "ser" or "estar" depend on what you mean. If you say "Juan es calvo", you're describing Juan as having a characteristic all bald people do, and include him in such group. If you say "Juan está calvo", you're talking about Juan as having endured a process in which he lost his hair (implying you know he hasn't been bald all his life).


To be dead is the result of an action or a process (a murder, an accident, an illness...).
Same case for:

·El policía está herido; el ladrón le disparó.
The policeman is wounded; the thief shot him. -> His current situation is given by the fact he's been shot
·El canario está lastimado de una pata
The canary has an injured leg. -> Something happened to the canary that brought him to this situation
·Mi muñeca está rota. Alguien jugó con ella.
My doll is broken; someone has been playing with it. -> Transformation was caused by careless manipulation.

And I'll quote myself in this same thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelicaDeAlquezar View Post
[...]As for "estar muerto", "estar" is the right choice most of the times.
"Ser muerto" would mean to be some kind of zombie or so.

El médico no pudo hacer nada por Juan. Está muerto.
The doctor couldn't do anything for Juan. He's dead.

Someone joking in a graveyard:
¡Soy un muerto que sale de su tumba! ¡BU!
I'm a deadman coming out of his grave! BOO!
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  #53  
Old August 30, 2011, 12:43 PM
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The verb estar often translates to the English verb to be in the state of.
I hope this helps, but the difference between ser and estar is a puzzlement for most of us non-native speakers.
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  #54  
Old August 30, 2011, 01:42 PM
Don José Don José is offline
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Quote:
the difference between ser and estar is a puzzlement for most of us non-native speakers
Eso es una verdad como un templo.

(The literal translation of this expression would be: 'that is a truth like a temple', meaning that something is completely, absolutely true;the truth being as big as a temple).

I´ve witnessed that puzzlement very often. It´s good to have some rules, but you´ll come across exceptions and things whose reason you won´t understand. My advise: take it easy and beware of the difficulty.

Last edited by Don José; August 30, 2011 at 05:01 PM.
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  #55  
Old August 30, 2011, 04:36 PM
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Okay - thanks y'all - that makes a lot of sense!!!
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  #56  
Old December 19, 2011, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomisimo View Post
A quick comparison between Ser and Estar
Disclaimer: This is basically off the top of my head so some things could be missing. If you see something that should be here and it's not, please post it. In any case, it's a good start for learning when to use ser and when to use estar.

Ser is used for:
  • Professions - Soy carpintero - I'm a carpenter
  • Permanent conditions - La ciudad es muy sucia - The city is really dirty (A fact of life, unlikely to change)
  • Permanent characteristics - Soy bajita - I'm short; El martillo es pesado - The hammer is heavy
  • Definitive characteristics even if they're not permanent - El es nuevo aquí. - He's new around here.
  • Where someone is from - Soy de España - I'm from Spain
  • Telling time - Son las 3 de la tarde - It's 3 PM
  • Saying what the date is - Es el tres de octubre - It's October 3rd
  • Saying what day of the week it is - Es lunes - It's Monday
  • Nationalities - Ella es francesa - She's French
  • Possesion - La cámara es de Miguel - The camera is Michael's
  • What something is made of - La pared es de ladrillo - The wall is made of/from brick
  • Religion - Es católica - She's Catholic
  • Size & Length - El palo es largo - The stick is long; El bolígrafo es pequño - the pen is small
  • Colors - Las rosas son rojas - Roses are red
  • To specify one of several object don't confuse this with the location criteria below - ¿Cuál es la casa de Juan? Es la casa de la esquina. - Which house is Juan's? It's the house on the corner.

Estar is used for:
  • Changeable conditions - La calle está sucia - The street's really dirty (It just rained and there's mud everywhere, not a permanent condition)
  • Changeable characteristics - Está enojado - He's angry
  • Location/position of people/things Even if it's something permanent - Está en la recámara - It's in the bedroom; Londres está en Inglaterra - London is in England
  • Temporary state of something - La luz está prendida - The light is on; La puerta está abierta - The door's open
  • Used to form the "-ing" form of verbs - Estoy caminando - I'm walking

You can use either ser or estar for certain things, both are correct, but have different meanings:
There are many more examples of this. As I think of them, I'll try to add them.

Juan es aburrido - Juan is boring
Juan está aburrido - Juan is bored

María es nerviosa - Mary is a nervous person
María está nerviosa - Mary is nervous (right now, but not always)

El mango es bueno - Mangoes are good
El mango está bueno - This mango tastes good or The mango is good (as in not rotten or spoiled)

Es buena - She's a good person
Está buena - She's hot
Tomasimo,
The English verb "to be" is by far the most commonly used verb (roughly 1 in 4 times when we say a verb it is a conjugation of "to be") and also by far the most irregular verb in the language with multiple forms. Despite it's simplicity it is a mash up of several different Anglo Saxon verbs. In vernacular forms of English it has multiple variations that different from standard English "We be nice when we’re trying to impress the teacher."

What always helped me was to realize that the Spanish verb ser is related to the same concept linguistically as the English word essence. The correlation goes way back before Latin to Proto Indo European.

The Spanish verb estar is related to the Proto Indo European root sta from which we get the English words "status","station", and "state".

The "case by case" description of when to use estar and ser outlines in your post, can all be seen to fundamentally relate to the concept of "essential" or to "status".

There are some advantages to thinking about the verbs this way, instead of the classic "ser" is for permanent things, and "estar" is for temporary things. For instance the English sentence "My grandfather is dead", is difficult to translate for many students. The reasoning is that death would appear to be a permanent, so students believe they should use "ser".

But if you think about it using the other cognates, you see that you don't want to say "My grandfather is essentially death". What you want to say is "The status of my grandfather is dead".

"Mi abuela esta muerte" is the correct translation. The choice of verb has nothing to do with the temporary or permanence of death.
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  #57  
Old December 19, 2011, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacomartin123 View Post
Tomasimo Tomísimo,
[...]
"Mi abuela está muerte muerta" is the correct translation. The choice of verb has nothing to do with the temporary or permanence of death.
Please note that the post you're quoting, as the original poster said, is not exhaustive, and it was meant for people to add useful ideas and tips for learners (and findings by learners themselves).

Also, please note that the hardest things for some students who have been taught the temporary/permanent rule have also been discussed and explained in later messages.
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  #58  
Old December 20, 2011, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelicaDeAlquezar View Post
Also, please note that the hardest things for some students who have been taught the temporary/permanent rule have also been discussed and explained in later messages.
Thank you for the corrections. I should have read the entire thread first.

Pedantically, it helps the student to understand that the English verb "to be", and it's accidents "am,are,is,was,were, and being" was formed from several different Anglo Saxon words. There exists an English variant since the 1960's called E-prime which eliminates the verb entirely from written and spoken English. The verb "to be" more often confuses than clarifies. It takes a lot of training to eliminate this verb from speech.

Once you realize that fact, it is easier to see that "ser" and "estar" are not variations of "to be". They are in reality separate words with different etymologies. The close spelling of the Spanish verb "es" and the English word "is", is purely coincidence. While it is possible (with training) to eliminate the verb "to be" from the English language and still have a comprehensible language, it is impossible to eliminate "ser" and "estar" from Spanish.

In their book, Juan and Susan Serrano say that ser is used for “WHATNESS” and that estar is used for “HOWNESS” and “WHERENESS” (Serrano & Serrano, 19). This definition is preferable “nature vs. state” or the "permanent vs. temporary" versions of "to be".
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  #59  
Old January 21, 2012, 08:00 PM
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Ser or Estar

Lo siento por la misma repetida pregunta. Se que posible hay alguan respuesta ahi, pero honestamente me no tengo tanto tiempo para leer mas de 7 paginas.
Ser o Estar y porque?
-Recuerdas que esta noche vamos al concierto?
- Ay si, donde ES?
- En el auditorio. Creo que va a SER/ESTAR muy bueno? (Creo que va a ser muy bueno? Creo que va a estar muy bueno?)
2. When he was young he was crazy. Era loco/ Estuvo loco ?
Gracias
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  #60  
Old January 21, 2012, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky View Post
1. - ¿Recuerdas que esta noche vamos al concierto?
- Ay sí, ¿dónde ES? (Correct. An event takes place. This requires the use of 'ser'. An exam takes place. Again, 'ser' is used.)
- En el auditorio. Creo que va a SER/ESTAR muy bueno? (Creo que va a ser muy bueno? Creo que va a estar muy bueno? )
2. When he was young he was crazy. Era loco Estuvo/estaba loco ?
Crazy and insane are two different things. The first takes 'estar' and the latter takes 'ser'. The imperfect is used to describe a characteristic in the past, so 'era loco' is the correct usage to describe an insane person. If the person was crazy, both 'estaba loco' or 'estuvo loco' can be used. The preterite tense form rules out that the person is currently crazy - the craziness had a start and an end in the past. The imperfect tense form allows for continuance of the craziness - it was ongoing in the past and may still be an issue.
'Ser bueno' is used to describe something characteristically. 'Estar bueno' is used to describe an unexpected characteristic or a change in character. (It's also used in a suggestive way to mean that someone is 'hot' (attractive).)

Last edited by Rusty; January 21, 2012 at 09:48 PM.
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