Uses for Ser:
The most important factor that should be understood about ser is that it embodies the aspect
of the verb to be that it is definite, permanent, unchangeable, or inherent. Because of this, in
Spanish ser is used to describe persons, professions, personality aspects, time, and nationalities.
Each particular use for ser is explained below:
a. To express a person, place, or thing’s physical trait, personality, nationality, profession,
or inherent condition.
Physical traits of people and objects:
Jorge es alto. (Jorge is tall.)
Doris era flaca. (Doris was skinny.)
La madre de Juan es bonita. (Juanita's mother is pretty.)
La catedral es grande y vieja. (The cathedral is big and old.)
Lima es una ciudad Peruana. (Lima is a Peruvian city.)
La manzana es roja. (The apple is red.)
Don Julio ya no es joven. Es anciano.
(Mr. Julio is no longer young. He is a senior citizen.)
Yo soy Colombiana. (I am Colombian.)
Tomasina era Dominicana. (Tomasina was Dominican/was a Dominican citizen.)
Él es hispano. (He is latino.)
Juan y Carla son inteligentes. (Juan and Carla are intelligent.) Los muchachos eran tímidos. (The boys were timid.)
Mariana era humilde. (Mariana was humble.)
Tú eres honesta. (You are honest.)
Tulia es una doctora famosa. (Tulia is a famous doctor.)
Mi abuelo era alcalde. (My grandfather was mayor.)
Ellos son profesores. (They are professors.)
Somos choferes. (We are drivers.)
Éramos choferes, pero ahora somos gerentes.
(We were drivers, but now we are managers.)
b. Ser is also used to express possession or the origin of an item. With this particular use,
the verb ser is usually followed by de (of).
Este reloj es de Inglaterra. (This watch is from England.)
El cuaderno es de Raquel. (The notebook is Raquel's.)
La computadora de Roberto es de Alemania. (Roberto's computer is from Germany.)
c. Ser is always used to express the time. For example:
¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)
Son las siete y cuarto. (It is seven fifteen.)
d. Ser is also used for common impersonal expressions in Spanish related to time.
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Es tarde. (It is late.)
Es temprano. (It is early.)
Es de noche. (It is night.)
Estar (to be)
In Spanish, the verb estar is used to express what is more temporary, and changeable
compared to ser.
Let’s review the conjugations for estar in the present and imperfect tenses: