The useful and sometimes tricky verb ser is used for the very idea of existence. In Spanish, this verb can be used to talk about several things, including personality, physical appearance, and occupation, as well as other lasting attributes of everyday life.
If you have trouble remembering when to use this verb, try learning the acronym DOT, which stands for: Description of things, Origins of an individual or thing, and Time. Ser translates as ‘‘to be,’’ and it is one of the most irregular verbs in the Spanish language.
Here are some examples of when to use ser:
To express essential qualities or characteristics of someone or something that are not expected to change in the future
El cielo es azul. - The sky is blue.
Las flores son bonitos. - Flowers are beautiful.
Yo soy alta. - I am tall.
To tell time
Son las 10:00 de la mañana. - It is 10 o’clock in the morning.
Ya es la 1:00, ¿quieres comer? - It is already 1:00, do you want to eat?
Son las 11:00 de la noche. - It is 11:00 o’clock at night.
To describe relationships
Ella es mi esposa. - She is my wife.
Estos niños son suyos. - These children are hers/theirs/his.
Tu eres mi mejor amigo. - You are my best friend.
To express ownership or possession
La casa es suya. - The house is theirs.
Estos calcetines son tuyos. - These socks are yours
Es mi lápiz. - It is my pencil.
To express origin or identity (this also includes professions)
Las galletas son italianas. - The cookies are Italian.
Somos mexicanos. - We are Mexican.
Mi familia es de Estambul. - My family is from Istanbul.
Soy dentista. - I am a dentist.
It is no surprise that ser can be found in several idiomatic expressions in Spanish. For instance:
A cualquier dolencia es remedio la paciencia. - Good things come for those who wait.
Es peor el remedio que la enfermedad. - The cure is worse than the disease.
Amigo en la adversidad es amigo de verdad. - A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Used to express someone’s physical appearance, personality, origin, and occupation; the verb ser is a really important word to learn in Spanish. While it is an irregular verb, the changes are not difficult to remember.
The main problem with ser is that many Spanish learners tend to confuse it with estar, which is a very similar verb, but used in different situations. The acronym DOT will help you understand it better, so you know when to say tú eres aburrido (you are boring) and when estás aburrido (you are bored). See the difference?
Check out Ser: Spanish Verb Conjugation to learn how to conjugate this verb.