Spanish Verbs in the Present Tense
To Be, & the Progressive Tense
The verb 'to be' in English is irregular. We may not think about it that way, but there it displays no regular pattern and therefore each subject that we are talking about must have its own verb form. For example, when I say: 'I am a man', this statement uses the verb 'I am' and is rooted in the verb 'to be'.
When speaking or writing in Spanish, the verb 'to be' is also irregular. However, Spanish has two different verbs for the verb, 'to be'. That might sound scary, but once you get the hang of it, you won't have much of a problem figuring out which form to use.
The two verbs of 'to be' in Spanish are 'Estar' and 'Ser' .
Before we talk about their differences, let's talk about their irregular forms, one at a time.
The Verb 'Estar'
Estar is conjugated in the following manner:
The verb 'Ser'
The Differences of 'To Be'
Basically, the difference of each verb depends upon the meaning you want to express. Both verbs have their time and place for normal usage.
1) The verb 'Ser' is used for things that are permanent, or something that is not likely to change for a long period of time.
Ex. Ser: origin, nationality, personal qualities
Pedro es de Puerto Rico. (Pedro is from Puerto Rico.)
Ex. Ser: occupations, qualities, or traits that will most likely not change
Pedro es jugador de baloncesto. (Pedro is a basketball player.)
Ex. Ser: time & dates, possessions, and certain expressions
Son las dos. (It's two o'clock.)
2) The verb 'Estar' is used for things that are not permanent, or something that might be short-lived.
Ex. Estar: Express the location of someone or something
¿Donde esta Pedro? (Where is Pedro?)
¿Donde esta el supermercado? (Where is the supermarket?)
Finally, there are some idiomatic expressions that will come in handy if you know how to use them with the verb estar.
Here are a few:
Ex. Estar de acuerdo. (To be in agreement with someone or something)
Estoy de acuerdo con los nueves leyes. (I agree with the new laws.)
Ex. Estar de vuelta (To be back or coming back.)
Estoy de vuelta. (I'm back. Or, I've returned.)
Te doy la vuelta. (I'm giving you your change. [Used in Spain from by a vendor after an item has been purchased].
EXERCISE: YOUR TURN!
Fill in the blank with the correct form of the verb 'To Be'. You will use either 'estar' or 'ser'.