The Grammar Page

Grammar Basics

Verbs

Vocabulary

Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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Let's take a look at our first verb, Ser.  Ser is very irregular, meaning that it doesn't follow the pattern of regular verb conjugation. But the English verb "to Be" isn't regular either! When we say that Ser and "to Be" aren't regular, we mean that they don't follow the conjugation pattern that we expect from most verbs.

In English we can conjugate "to Walk" the same way we conjugate "to Talk, to Play, to Study" etc. : I walk, You walk, He/She/It walks, We walk and They walk. But "to Be" is different: I AM, You ARE, He/she/it IS, We ARE, They ARE. This is what we mean by irregular.

When we learn other Spanish verbs we will see that the conjugation of Ser ("to Be") is different from the normal pattern:

Yo Él, ella, usted Nosotros Ellos, ellas, ustedes
Soy eres es somos son

Ser refers to things that are an integral part of you, of your identity.  For example:

Examples: Notice that I can end each of the English sentences with "Person". This is because Ser functions like an "=", an equal sign, meaning that what is to the left inherently equals what is to the right.
Soy simpática. I am a nice person. 
Soy norteamericana. I am North American (person).
Soy alta y rubia. I am tall and blonde (person).
Soy sueca-española. I am Swedish-Spanish (person).
Soy mujer. I am a woman/female (person).
Soy de California. I am from California. (I, the person)
Soy profe Lemon. I'm profe Lemon. (I, the person)
Soy instructora. I'm an instructor. (type of person)
Examples with Time:
La clase de español es a las diez y media de la mañana. Spanish class is at 10:30 am. 
El concierto de Maná es el viernes. The Maná concert is on Friday.
Es la una y media de la tarde. It's one o'clock in the afternoon.

Just as in English, the Spanish verbs used most often, verbs which describe life's basic activities, are irregular.  The best way to learn Spanish irregular verbs is through simple repetition and memorization - just how you learned the English equivalents!

You may have heard that Ser is used for things which are permanent and Estar is used for things which are temporary. This is an over-simplification and not a good way to think of these verbs because you will end up with a lot of exceptions and confusion. Try to forget you ever heard that.

It is better to remember the above designations of Ser pertaining to Identity (with all of its elements) and that Estar pertains to States of Being: Condition, Location, and Motion (the Present Progressive.)