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estar

Estar is the seventeenth most frequently used word in the Spanish language.

Estar is a verb and, to boot, it is irregular (that is to say that it does not follow the normal regular -ar verb formations) and causes no end of trouble to most learners of the Spanish language, especially to maternal English tongue speakers.

So, what’s all the trouble about? To be or not to be, to quote Shakespeare, is the problem. Estar means “to be”. But the attentive to this series of posts and podcasts will know that we have already dealt with a monosyllabic powerhouse verb meaning to be, ser. See post on high frequency word in Spanish number 8 (click here http://wp.me/p3mW5k-3v)

Estar means to be. That definition is simply stated, but flowing from that is a whole grammar book’s worth of scholarly debate. However, for our purposes here, to be will do.

Examples of use:

Madrid está en España – Madrid is in Spain. (Está is indicating geographic position).

Estoy cansado – I am tired (a temporary state – I am not always tired … if this was the case you would say soy cansado)

Well, it is not easy.

Ser or no ser? Estar or no Estar. I’ll leave it there – the discussion could go from grammatical to philosophical.

So, there you have it – estar the seventeenth most common word in the Spanish language.

ser

Ser is the eighth most used word in the Spanish language.

I must admit I approach this word with some trepidation. This monosyllabic verb, for yes, ser is a verb, is the bane of the lives of all learners of Spanish.

Ser means “to be”. Said, or written like that, it seems quite easy. However, there is another verb meaning “to be”, that is estar. And this is where the fun (or problems) start. Moreover, the problems arise, obviously, because of the frequency with which this verb (these verbs in Spanish) occur.

However, we need to bash on in the interests of brevity.

To add to the mix, el ser (a noun) means being.

Here are some examples of the use of ser (but this list is not exhaustive in any way, shape or form. Click here for the “big daddy” and authoritative source (in Spanish – http://lema.rae.es/drae/). Pop “ser” into the top right hand box, and, hey presto, all of the different meanings of ser are on display (in Spanish, of course).

Es muy alto – he is very tall

Hola, soy yo – Hi, it’s me (literally I am I).

And, to boot, ser is an irregular verb. Click here for the way it breaks down into its differing parts

http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/Spanish/ser.html

Note, if you are an anorak on verbs (I am!), http://www.verbix.com/ is a great site (and not just for Spanish).

So, there we have it, the eighth most common word in Spanish, ser = to be.