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A question of Ser/Estar. . .

 

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  #1  
Old August 09, 2011, 09:49 PM
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Disclaimer: I scanned the Ser/Estar thread and am still a little unclear.

If you're talking about a temporary life state, do you use Ser or Estar?

For instance:

"When I was a child I liked to eat ice cream."

"My life was hard when I was in China."

. . . etc.

These were obviously temporary conditions . . . but something tells me Ser should be used.

Thanks for the help. And I hate to put a rush on this, but I'm trying to type up an e-mail right now and I'm not sure which to use.

One other thing on the same subject, would the preterite or imperfect tenses be used?

Instinct tells me imperfect, but I really have no idea.

Last edited by Rusty; August 09, 2011 at 10:05 PM. Reason: merged back-to-back posts
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  #2  
Old August 09, 2011, 10:10 PM
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Cuando era niño = When I was a child (ser niño - characteristic)
Mi vida era dura cuando estaba en China. = My life was hard (ser duro - definitive characteristic) when I was in China (estar en - location). (No boundaries - vague timing.) If you want to set boundaries, change either verb, or both verbs, to the preterite.

Last edited by Rusty; August 09, 2011 at 10:24 PM.
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Old August 09, 2011, 10:25 PM
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Hmm. . .

Okay, why "Cuando era niño" and not "Cuando era UN niño"? This is one of the things that really confuses me . . . sometimes a/an seems to just be arbitrarily removed.

And I get "Cuando estuve en China" . . . but what about ". . . my life was hard?"

Cuando estuve en China mi vida era difícíl. . .?
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Old August 09, 2011, 10:39 PM
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Check my edited post. Originally I placed a boundary on the time spent in China. I later changed it to a vague reference.

When using ser to describe a person's characteristics, occupation or condition, the indefinite article is not necessary. If the article is used, it sets the person apart from others.
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Old August 09, 2011, 10:43 PM
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Hmm, okay.

I think I get it, more or less. I don't quite understand the "sets the person apart from others" bit, though. Are people not separate by nature?

By the way, I've never learned anything beyond the present tense so I'm trying to figure this out as I go. But I've found that's it's a good way for me to learn for me to have something I want to say and then be forced to figure out how to say it.

I'm also going through a standard grammar course. So it all works together.

Last edited by Rusty; August 09, 2011 at 10:52 PM. Reason: merged back-to-back posts
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Old August 09, 2011, 10:50 PM
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Soy estudiante. = I'm a student.
Soy un estudiante. = I'm one of many students.
Soy un estudiante inteligente. = I'm a smart student.

The article is needed if you modify (use an adjective), because you're singling yourself out.

Last edited by Rusty; August 09, 2011 at 11:02 PM. Reason: changed adjective
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Old August 09, 2011, 10:54 PM
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That's it, I quit! Screw this language! Too confusing!

. . . kidding . . .

Okay, I thought about this preterite vs imperfect issue all night. Let's see if I have it right using an example:

I was a Spanish student when I met my girlfriend.

I was a Spanish student = an action that took place over a period of time and had no real definite end

when I met my girlfriend. = something that took place at a specific date and time

So. . .

Yo era estudiante de español cuando conocí a mi novia.

Right?

Last edited by AngelicaDeAlquezar; August 10, 2011 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Merged back-to-back posts
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Old August 10, 2011, 12:09 PM
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yes
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Old August 10, 2011, 12:25 PM
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Okay, well two follow up questions:

1. Is conocer always used when talking about meeting people? Or can encontrar me used as well?

2. Why is it "conocí A mi novia" and not simply "conocí mi novia"? Is this simply "one of those things"? I figured I'd find conocer on this chart (http://www.elearnspanishlanguage.com...swithprep.html) but I didn't. Not sure if it was just an oversight or what.
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Old August 10, 2011, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SPX View Post
Okay, well two follow up questions:

1. Is conocer always used when talking about meeting people? Or can encontrar me used as well?

2. Why is it "conocí A mi novia" and not simply "conocí mi novia"? Is this simply "one of those things"? I figured I'd find conocer on this chart (http://www.elearnspanishlanguage.com...swithprep.html) but I didn't. Not sure if it was just an oversight or what.
1) Yes, encontrar, dar con and others I'm sure.
2) In Spanish there is the use of the "personal A" in which "a" is followed
by many verbs when the verb is followed by a person or a beloved creature like a pet dog.
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