Ser vs Estar vs Hay - The elementary Spanish nightmare

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Hello again! Do you remember how to say “To be”?

 Student note: Of course I do! SER!!

That´s right!...but not completely :-) . In Spanish we have two different ways to say “To be”.
One of them is SER, but there is another, ESTAR!
Yes, we are weird enough to have two different verbs for “TO BE” (or maybe English doesn't have as many details as we do! :p ).

The main difference between SER and ESTAR

As you will go forward in our course, you´ll discover the differences between SER and ESTAR, but let me teach you one of them for this introductory course!.

ESTAR is used to talk about location, like in “I am in Spain”, or “The Louvre is in Paris”, or “Where on the hell are you?”. Those three expressions use the verb TO BE to talk about the location of people or objects. In fact you could say (even if it sounds weird) “ I am located in Spain”, “The louvre is located in Paris” and “ Where on the hell are you located?” ( I love this last one...)


Important note:

So, here you have the conjugation (the “versions”) of ESTAR in present tense. Notice that it is a regular verb (ending in -AR), but the form for the first person singular is not regular!.


TO BE (located)


I am


You are


He is


We are


You are


They are




On the other hand, as you already know, we use SER to describe things, like in “ I am cute”, “ The louvre is big” or “Are you stupid?”.

As you have probably already noticed, the base of this online course are the sentences, so...there they go!


Tus amigos SON muy simpáticos

Tus amigos ESTÁN en Barcelona

Mi novia ES guapa

Mi novia ESTÁ en casa

Berlin ES super bonito

Berlín ESTÁ en Alemania


Student note: I think I got it! Yuhuu!! I´m the best Spanish student in the world!. Lets have some sangria and some siesta...


Hey! Stop there! We are not finish!. Before you go to have some sangria let me explain you one more thing!.

 HAY: how to say "There is" or "There are" in Spanish

In English to talk about the existence of an object you use the expression “THERE IS” (like in “There is a snake in my garage”), and to talk about the existence of a group of objects you say “THERE ARE” ( like in “There are two snakes in my garage”).

Well, you are using the verb TO BE there, in singular or plural form... Do you think we use the verb SER or the verb ESTAR to say “there is” and “there are”?.

 Do not think too much, because we don´t use any of them. We have a SPECIAL EXPRESSION for that!.

We say: HAY

Three examples:

There is a snake in the garage

HAY una serpiente en el garage

There are two snakes in the garage

HAY dos serpientes en el garage

There is no beer!

¡No HAY cerveza!


And let me give you a mix of SER, ESTAR and HAY


There is a snake in the garage. It´s green and it is in the car

HAY una serpiente en el garage, ES verde y ESTÁ en el coche

Salamanca is very beautiful. It´s in Spain, and there are a lot of students there

Salamanca ES muy bonita. ESTÁ en España y HAY muchos estudiantes allí*

I am from Salamanca, but now I am in Barcelona

SOY de Salamanca, pero ahora ESTOY en Barcelona

* Allí means “there” / Aquí means “here”



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Guest Thursday, 17 August 2017

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