Spanish for Tanja! — Part I

I’ve been thinking how is the best way to explain the basics and most important things of Spanish. I think that the best way is explain it with examples and basics things.

This is for you, my little viking.

Let’s start with the most important and difficult thing of Spanish:

TO BE

To be in Spanish has two meanings: ser and estar. It can be difficult to understand at first, but don’t worry!

Ser:

Yo soy — I am
Tú eres — You are
Él/Ella es — He/She is
Nosotros/as somos — We are
Vosotros/as sois — You are
Ellos/as son — They are

We use ser when we want to express existence, places where you are from or nationalities, professions,…

  • Existente: I am Luis — Yo soy Luis.
  • Nationality: You are from Finland — Tú eres de Finlandia.
  • Profession: They are engineers — Ellos son ingenieros.
  • How someone or something is: The car is red — El coche es rojo | Tanja is pretty — Tanja es guapa.
  • Definitions: That is a car — Eso es un coche
  • Time and date: What time is it? — ¿Qué hora es?
  • Prices: What’s the price? — ¿Cuál es el precio?

Estar:

  • Yo estoy — I am
  • Tú estás — You are
  • Él/Ella está — He/She is
  • Nosotros estamos — We are
  • Vosotros estáis — You are
  • Ellos están — They are

We use estar to express situations and states (moods or feelings). It also expresses situation in space and time, so if somebody ask with where (donde) we must answer with estar.

  • Places: Where is the dog? — ¿Dónde está el perro?
  • The computer is in the table — El ordenador está en la mesa
  • Presence of something or someone: He is not here — Él no está aquí
  • Feelings: I’m in love with you — Yo estoy enamorado de ti.
  • Moods: She is very happy — Ella está muy feliz. *
  • Situations: They are sit — Ellos están sentados.
  • She is very happy is Ella está muy feliz but also could be Ella es muy feliz. What is the difference? In this case, está is for a actual mood, she is it now, if we use es is because we want to express that She is very happy in general.

I’m probably forgetting some uses but I’ll add it when I remember it.

Both verbs can be use with adjetives, the same adjetives, but sometimes the meaning is not the same. For example: El chico es listo (The boy is intelligent) | El chico está listo (The boy is ready).

Definite article

Next and easy thing that I think is interesting to learn is the definite article, “the” in English. In Spanish we have 4 different articles: el, la, los y las.

Singular — Male: El | Female: La

Plural — Male: Los | Female: Las

Those are always with a noun and depend of the gender of it, we use different article. Let’s see:

  • Most masculine nouns end in -o. An -o ending can indicate that a person or animal is male or that an object, idea, etc. is grammatically masculine. There are also exceptions with words which ends in -e, a consonant other than -d or -z, an accented vowel (-á, -é, -í, -ó, -ú) and -ma.
  • Most feminine nouns end in -a. Ending in an -a indicates that a person or animal is female or that an object, idea, etc. is grammatically feminine. Also nouns that end in in -d, -z, or -ión are also feminine.

There are also some exceptions but the best way to learn it is reading/practising.