I am, I am : Ser vs. Estar

I’m sure you’re aware that Spanish has two different “to be” verbs. It’s one of the basic facts of the Spanish language, and it couldn’t be explained in a more boring and utilitarian way in most Spanish textbooks, videos, learning tools, etc. And that’s been bugging me. Watch these two ESAudio videos for example.

There are a couple of things in their favor. First, Julio includes vos and vosotros! How often do you get that? He also goes over all the classic cases of when the two verbs are used without the major oversimplification that’s often given: ser is used for permanent things and estar for temporary things. Telling students this often leads to a kind of existential crisis. “I’m only a student right now. So why soy estudiante?” “That building is permanently on the corner, unless someone knocks it down. So why está en la esquina?” It seems better to follow Julio’s lead and learn the situations in which the verbs are used, not a general philosophy of their inherent difference. But, this still leaves my main concern: all of this is a pretty boring way to learn a very important aspect of Spanish grammar. So how are we going to fix that? Certainly not with the myriad of bad songs/raps that you find if you put “ser vs. estar” in Youtube’s search engine.

Links:

*Fill-in-the-blanks quiz.

*A short bit by Gerald Erichsen.

*Another quiz, which also throws tener in the mix.

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