What is SER and ESTAR? Well one thing I like to start with is the Shakespere expression SER O NO SER? I’m sure you can guess what I just said… TO BE OR NOT TO BE! That’s right, SER means TO BE.
The weird thing though is that ESTAR ALSO means TO BE. So in English we have one TO BE verb that’s literally called TO BE. In Spanish they have two TO BE verbs; SER and ESTAR.
What’s the difference? Well you use them differently based on what you need to say. SER is generally more permanent. ESTAR is generally more temporary. I like to remember that esTar has a T in it; that helps me remember it’s more Temporary.
This can be confusing at first but after a while it becomes locked in your brain! SER is used for things like who you are, your personality, your physical characteristics, where you’re from and your profession. Generally these things are more permanent. ESTAR is used for temporary things like emotion, how you’re feeling that day, where you’re located, if you’re sick or not, and if the food is hot or cold right then.
One of the fun things based on this is that you can change the verb to change the meaning of a sentence; like él está(using ESTAR) aburrido. And él es(using SER) aburrido. One means he is bored. -estar; temporary. The other, well; he is a boring person; permanently! Ha! You are not aburrido I promise. And you will definitely not get bored with learning Spanish- that is for sure! Good luck, and keep pushing forward!
I love that knowing Spanish has given me opportunities to help others and be of use. Once when I was working in a summer camp I was the only bilingual counselor. One of our campers had broken her leg and since she was in the hospital she couldn’t speak to her Spanish speaking parents. The camp director needed someone to relay the information. That was me! I was called in and I grabbed my handy dictionary I happened to have that summer to make sure I knew all the words necessary. They asked me to call the parents and let them know she had fallen and broken her leg but was okay and being taken care of. Geeze, I was nervous. Even though I was still studying at the time, my broken Spanish came out alright and the parents were so grateful for the update on their daughter.
Another time I had the chance to help was in an airport where a couple clearly were confused wondering where to go. They were looking up at the frantic airport electronic signs completely lost. I heard them speaking Spanish and saw their looks of frustration. I decided to walk over and ask if I could help. They were visiting family and didn’t speak any English. I looked at their tickets and pointed them in the right direction explaining where they needed to go and what they needed to do. Man, was that exhilarating!
There are many other little ways I’ve had the opportunity to connect and help others because I speak Spanish. Being of use and getting to help someone in need in a second language is so satisfying. Start learning today so you can experience being a bridge between cultures and languages too!
Brittany is a bilingual Spanish teacher who has lived in Spain and Argentina. Through this blog, she hopes to relate her travels, insights, and Spanish speaking journey!