Spanish Grammar: Ser y estar
Ser and estar

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Spanish Grammar: Ser y estar
Ser and estar

Have you noticed these two verbs, ser and estar?
Yes, I have been wondering what the difference is between those.
Before we start, I am going to show you why is it so important to know the difference in one case. It's a matter of survival!
In Spain, the adjective cachondo can adopt two different meanings if we combine it with ser or with estar: Soy cachondo. (I am a funny person).
Estoy cachondo. (I am horny).
Oh wow, thank you for that! I won't forget this.
Let's go step by step to learn the difference between the two.
In English, both ser and estar are translated in the same way.
(Yo) Soy cubana.I am Cuban.
(Yo) Estoy en Cuba.I am in Cuba.
And why is this?
Let's get a little bit philosophical.
Oh no, why did I ask?!
We use ser when we want to focus on the essence of an object or person.
Okay, hold on. What do you mean by essence?
It’s something basic and real, an invariable nature of a thing or person.
Fran es mi amigo.
Fran is my friend.
Fran es un chico.
Fran is a boy.
Okay, I think I got it.
We use estar when we are referring to the situation of a person or object. That situation can be:
  • a state or
  • a location.
If you think about a friend, their mood in the situation states where they are:
Fran está feliz.
Fran is happy.
I don't get why we use it when we want to say the location of someone or something.
We understand the location as part of the situation that we are describing, because we give information about where they are.
That's way too philosophical for me, I think.
No worries. In regards to location, maybe relating estar with "stay" might help you. In some ways, with those two verbs, we are indicating the location.
Fran está en Alemania.
Fran is in Germany.
¡Qué bien! That helped. I think I will remember from now on!
Estupendo. We will go little by little and you will be able to distinguish them without even noticing.
SERESTAR
Identity: Ella es Natalia. She is Natalia.Location: Natalia está en Panamá. Natalia is in Panama.
Personality: Natalia es inteligente. Natalia is intelligent.State: Natalia está dormida. Natalia is asleep.
Characteristics: El examen es fácil. The exam is easy.
Type: Las naranjas son frutas. Oranges are fruits.
Origin: Natalia es de Perú. Natalia is from Peru.
Material: La mesa es de madera. The table is made of wood.
Profession: Natalia es profesora. Natalia is a professor.
Shape: Mis gafas son redondas. My glasses are rounded.
Color: La banana es amarilla. The banana is yellow.
Relationship: Natalia es mi hermana. Natalia is my sister.
Times and dates: Mañana es mi cumpleaños. Tomorrow is my birthday. Son las 3. It's 3 o'clock.
Remember! In Spanish we don't talk about age with ser but with tener. - ¿Cuántos años tienes?
- Tengo 10 años.