SerThe 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

2. Occupation:

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

4. Origin:

Nosotros somos de España We are from Spain
Vosotros sois mejicanos You are Mexican

5. Possession:

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

11. Relationships:

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

Other posts and pages about Ser that you may find interesting:

How to Conjugate Ser in the Preterite Tense