All posts, Language

To be, or not to be

map

(Speak any Spanish? If so, you may as well read something else!)

With language, one of the first things you learn – apart from ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ –  is ‘to be’: I am a nun; we are from Finland; are you hungry? and so on. In Spanish there are two verbs for to be: ser and estar.

The text books say that, loosely, Ser is about a more permanent state: ‘I am Irish’ (always will be) whereas estar is used mainly for temporary conditions.

To complicate things a little, ‘Are you hungry?’ is actually ‘Do you have hunger?’ – S says it’s the same in French and, speaking it pretty well, ‘gets’ this more than M who struggles even with the basics.

Soy irlandesa – I’m Irish’ (if you’re female)

Está enfermo – He’s ill

¿Tienes hambre? – Are you hungry? (if it’s someone you know, otherwise ¿Tiene hambre?) From the verb tener, to have.

Ser is used, for example, for: nationality (Are you Spanish? / ¿Eres espanola?); identification (That isn’t a cat, it’s a dog / Eso no es un gato, es un perro); profession (I’m a doctor / Soy medico, not Soy un medico); physical characteristics (They’re very tall / Son muy altos); Stuff that you own (This house is ours / Esta casa es nuestra).

Estar is used, for example, for: how you feel/state (I’m tired / Estoy cansado); location (Where’s the restaurant? / ¿Dónde está el restaurante?); temporary conditions (That nun is very happy / Esa monja está muy feliz); where something is/position (It’s on the table / Está sobre la mesa or Está en la mesa).

How to remember when to use which? That is the question.

© con jamón 2013 

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: