The irregular verb ‘ser‘, meaning ‘to be’, is the most frequently used verb in the Spanish language.
It is a confusing verb to say the least as it is one of two verbs in Spanish that mean ‘to be’, the other being ‘estar’.
In English, both ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ may well have the same meaning but each of them are very distinctive verbs but even though this is the case it can be very hard to explain one without making reference to the other and for newcomers to the Spanish language, the confusion about the choice of using ‘ser’ or ‘estar’ is almost inevitable to begin with!
Here we have a basic conjugation of the verb ‘ser’ in the present tense only.
(For a complete and printable conjugation sheet, click on the image on the left or here)
|Yo soy||I am|
|Tú eres||You are (familiar)|
|Él es||He is|
|Ella es||She is|
|Nosotros somos||We are|
|Vosotros sois||You are|
|Ellos son||They are|
’Ser’ is used to explain the following:
1. Identity: If you are announcing yourself you use ser.
|Yo soy Juan||I am John|
|Nosotros somos la familia de Martinez||We are the Martinez family|
|Yo soy un estudiante||I am a student|
|Tú eres médico||You are a doctor|
3. Characteristics or Quality:
|El niño es alto||The boy is tall|
|Nosotros somos inteligentes||We are intelligent|
|Nosotros somos de España||We are from Spain|
|Vosotros sois mejicanos||You are Mexican|
|Los libros son míos||The books are mine|
6. Time, Date or Day:
|¿Qué hora es? Son las cuatro||What time is it? It is four o’clock|
|Hoy es miércoles||Today is Wednesday|
7. Religious, Political or ideological affiliation:
|Ella es hindú||She is Hindu|
|Ellas son comunistas||They(feminine)are communists|
8. Location of an event:
|El concierto es en la playa||The concert is on the beach|
|La fiesta será en mi casa||The party will be at my house|
9. Impersonal expressions:
|Es importante||It is important|
|Es mi elección||It’s my choice|
|Fue difícil pero necesario||It was difficult but necessary|
|Es sorprendente que no puedas hacerlo||It is surprising that you can’t do it|
10. The material that something is made from:
|La casa es de madera||The house is made of wood|
|Ana es mi madre||Ana is my mother|
12. Passiveness: The use of past participles to form the passive voice is much less common in Spanish than it is in English.
|La canción fue oída||The song was heard|
|Son usados para comer||They are used for eating|
|El governador fue arrestado en su propia casa||The governor was arrested in his own home|