For every self respecting student of the Spanish language, getting SER and ESTAR right is not only a challenge but often becomes and obsession.
“Why on earth they have to have two verbs ‘to be’ I’ll never know!”we often mutter to ourselves. Still, no matter how long you look at it, there they are, defying us to get our heads around them.
The main issue is that to use these verbs, particularly in the past, we have to perform a series of mental gymnastics before we can even get a word out of our mouths.
We reach a WAS in our sentence and stop… then begin the questions:
Is this SER or ESTAR?
Is this a PERMANENT was or a TEMPORARY was?
Is this a ONE OFF ACTION or is it an ONGOING ACTION?
By the time we’ve reached a conclusion, either our listener has gone to make a coffee or their eyes have glazed over as they escape to their happy place.
As we have said before, native speakers do not have this problem. They have learnt to speak by ear, and so to them, it either sounds right or wrong.
We, unfortunately, do not have that luxury and must manually trawl through our rules to arrive at the correct tense and conjugation.
The truth is, it’s not as difficult as you might imagine. Nor is it life threatening to get it wrong. Sometimes it can change the meaning, however, if your listener is paying attention to what you are saying, they will know if you have chosen the wrong verb or tense.
We have produced this video podcast to help you with SER and ESTAR in the past in conjunction with the video in EL AULA which covers the 4 ways to say WAS.
Probably, it would be best to watch THIS VIDEO first before listening to the one we are presenting here.
The Good News.
The good news is that the more you practice the easier it gets. You really do learn by ear and the way to do that is to practice, practice, practice. Read every day. Even if you really struggle with the story, you are learning all the time. It’s impossible not to learn.
Read out loud! This also allows you to hear the Spanish being spoken whilst giving you great practice for your pronunciation.
Listen as much as you can to as much variety as possible. By doing so, you will learn the melody of the language, which is how native speakers have learnt it.
Our podcasts come with great Helpsheets that go into far more depth than the podcast allows us to do. We hope you enjoy them and find them of value.
Buena suerte, chicos. 🙂