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Ser vs Estar - Yo Soy

Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on how you can use soy (“I'm”—the first-person singular form of ser in the present tense) to talk about yourself.
 

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The present tense of the verb ser (to be) is soy. You can use it combined with an adjective (or a participiothe -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and their feminine and plural forms, used as an adjective) to express an intrinsic characteristic or status, a permanent state of mind, body, or soul.
 
For starters, you can use it to introduce yourself:

Soy Paco, de 75 Minutos. -Hola.

I'm Paco, from 75 Minutes. -Hello.

Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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You can also use soy to talk about your occupation, career, etc.
 

Yo soy guardia civil.

I am a Civil Guard.

Caption 33, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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And you can use soy to talk about your personality, preferences, nationality, beliefs or affiliations. For example: Yo soy musulmán (I'm muslim), soy miembro del partido (|'m a member of the party), soy tu hada madrina (I'm your fairy godmother).
 

Soy buena clienta, sí. La verdad que sí.

I am a good customer, yes. I truly am.

Caption 2, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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Yo soy bastante escrupulosa y no me da nada.

I am pretty fussy and it doesn't bother me at all.

Caption 21, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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The verb soy can also be used to talk about a role, status, function, etc:
 

Tú eres testigo. -Yo soy testigo. -Tú eres testigo.

You're a witness. -I'm a witness. -You're a witness.

Caption 81, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 11

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We mentioned, in our previous lesson on the subject, that estoy can also be used to talk about roles when combined with the preposition de, so saying yo estoy de testigo is also correct. There are subtle differences, though, which sometimes get lost in translation:
 
Yo soy testigo - I'm a witness
Yo estoy de testigo - I'm (working as) a witness
 
It's perhaps at this point, when these verbs are combined with adjectives (or participios used as adjectives), that English speakers get the most confused about the difference between soyand estoy. It gets even more confusing because in many cases it may seem Spanish speakers use both verbs indistinctly. Here are some examples:
 
Yo soy casado - I'm (a) married (person).
Yo estoy casado - I'm married.
Yo soy gordo - I'm (a) fat (person).
Yo estoy gordo - I'm fat.
Yo soy pequeña - I'm (a) small (person).
Yo estoy pequeña - I'm small.
 
Sometimes, however, it's impossible to use them indistinctly. It happens more frequently when the verbs are combined with participios (-ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings), which take estar much more easily than ser:
 
Yo estoy devastado - I'm devastated.
*Yo soy devastado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy cansado - I'm tired.
*Yo soy cansado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy herido - I'm wounded.
*Yo soy herido - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy muerto - I'm dead.
*Yo soy muerto - Incorrect, don't use it.
 
*It's interesting how this may be different while using other modes or tenses. For example both yo estuve herido and yo fui herido (I was wounded) are possible, given the right context. However, fui herido is actually far more common than yo estuve herido, which would need a special context to make proper sense, for example: Yo estuve herido sin recibir ayuda por 10 horas (I was wounded without receiving any help for 10 hours).
 
The verb soy is also frequently combined with prepositions. For example, when combined with the preposition de, the verb soy indicates origin. So, besides soy mexicano (I'm Mexican) you can also say soy de México (I'm from Mexico).
 
Typically, the verb soy is followed by articles, but estoy doesn't take articles. Compare these:
 
Soy el mejor (I'm the best), soy mejor (I'm better), and estoy mejor (I feel better) are correct, but never say estoy el mejor. 
Soy tu padre (I'm your father), soy padre (I'm a father / also "I'm a nice person") and even estoy padre (I feel or look good) are correct, but you can't say estoy el padre.
Soy buena (I'm good), soy la buena (I'm the good one), estoy buena (I'm hot, good looking) are correct, but never say estoy la buena.
 

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The same happens with pronouns. You won't find a pronoun naturally following the verb estar, except, maybe, when you want to reiterate the subject and change the natural order of words (hyperbaton) for emphatic or stylistic purposes: estoy yo tan triste (me, I feel so sad)Normally, you'd say estoy tan triste (I feel so sad)This could also be done with ser: soy yo tan triste (me, I'm such a sad person).  But again, normally you'd just say soy tan triste (I'm such a sad person).
 
There are many other ways in which you can use the verb soy; these are just some of the most common ones. 

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Llevar and Traer - Part 2

Llevar and Traer - Part 1

Let's continue our lesson on llevar (to take, to carry) and traer (to bring). 

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We have said that the verb llevar (to bring) expresses that something or someone has (or contains) something:
 

¿Quién es el que ha hecho el arroz? ¿Qué lleva el arroz, Manolo?

Who is the one who has made the rice? What does the rice have in it, Manolo?

Captions 21-22, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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The previous example could have used the verb haber (to have): ¿Qué hay en el arroz, Manolo?, or the verb tener (to have, to be): ¿Qué tiene el arroz, Manolo?

This is not the only way llevar can be used instead of haber or tener. For example, it can replace tener when it's used to express the duration of time:

 

Yo ya llevo veintitrés años aquí ya.

I have already been here for twenty-three years now.

Caption 65, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Compare to: Yo ya he estado veintitrés años aquí and yo ya tengo veintitrés años (which mean exactly the same). 

The construction llevar + gerund is also very popular in Spanish. It's used to indicate how much time you are 'carrying' under your belt (so to speak) performing a given action:
 

¿Cuánto tiempo llevan intentando vender el piso?

How long have you been trying to sell the apartment?

Caption 51, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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Compare to: ¿Cuánto tiempo han estado intentando vender el piso? and ¿Cuánto tiempo tienen intentando vender el piso? (which mean exactly the same). 
 

El caso es que llevo esperando un rato en la puerta de embarque B siete.

The issue is that I have been waiting for a while at the boarding gate B seven.

Caption 37, Raquel - Avisos de Megafonía

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Equivalent expressions are: He estado esperando un rato, and Tengo esperando un rato.

Llevar is also used in the expression para llevar, which means "to go" or "takeout":
 

¿Y aquí, antes qué había? Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.

And here, what was there before? There were some takeout places here.

Captions 7-8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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The expression llevarse con alguien means to get along with someone, either badly or well:
 

Mi amiga María se lleva muy bien con mi amigo Alberto.

My friend Maria gets along very well with my friend Alberto.

Caption 10, El Aula Azul - Mis Amigos

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No se lleva muy bien con Aldo, Lucio.

Lucio doesn't get along very well with Aldo.

Caption 7, Yago - 6 Mentiras

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Check out too: Me llevo mal con mi jefe | I get along badly with my boss.

In Mexico, the expression llevarse con alguien, means to treat someone in a overfamiliar, playful, usually disrespectful way. There is even a saying that goes, El que se lleva se aguanta. Literally, it means something like "One who plays the game must endure it," similar to the English expressions "If you play with fire, you will get burned," and "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Curiously, the verb traer (to bring) is used in a similar expression: traerla con alguien, or traerla contra alguien, which means to "hold a grudge," or "to have a certain animosity toward somebody:"
 

¿Por qué la trae con nosotros?

Why does he hold a grudge against us?

Caption 23, El Ausente - Acto 3

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The expression ¿Qué te traes? (What's up with you?) could be used in different situations with different purposes:

He notado tu tristeza estos días. ¿Qué te traes?
I've noticed your sadness these days. What's up with you?

¿Tú qué te traes? ¿Quieres pelea?
What's up with you? Do you want a fight?

¿Qué se traen ustedes dos? ¿ Qué están tramado?
What are you two up to? What are you planning?

 

Using O Sea in Spanish

Have you ever heard someone use the expression, o sea? Chances are you have because this is a very popular and useful expression in both Spain and Latin America. Let's see how to use it.

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How to Use O Sea in Spanish

The expression, o sea, is generally used to introduce an explanation or consequence of something one has already said. If you think about it, the meaning is quite literal: The phrase is made up of the disjunctive conjunction, o ("or"), and the word, sea ("would be"), the third person present subjunctive form of the verb, ser ("to be"). Let's look at some examples.

 

Porque Barcelona no aburre nunca. O sea, siempre hay actividades,

Because Barcelona is never boring. I mean, there are always activities,

Captions 41-42, Escuela BCNLIP Presentación de la directora - Part 2

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Nos lo hemos pasado muy bien, muy bien. -Qué bien, o sea que buenísimas vacaciones.

We had a great time, great. -How nice, I mean, an amazing vacation.

Captions 48-49, El Aula Azul Conversación: Vacaciones recientes

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You can also think of o sea as an equivalent of the English expression, "in other words":

 

O sea que ¿el tipo de hoy era Wilson Ríos?

In other words, the guy from today was Wilson Rios?

Caption 33, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 6

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Sometimes, the word, que ("that"), is added after o sea without altering its meaning:
 

Sé surfear, ¿no? O sea que tengo una profesión ahora.

I can surf, right? I mean, I have a profession now.

Caption 43, Costa Azul Surf Shop Hablando con los Empleados Del Surf - Part 2

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Be careful, however: The combination "o + sea" can sometimes have a totally different meaning, so always pay close attention to the context:

 

...sea bueno o sea malo.

...whether it's good or whether it's bad.

Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1

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Using O Sea as "Duh" or "Like"

In Latin America, there is another use of o sea that is very popular among upper/middle-class youngsters, some of whom are considered snobby and superficial. In this case, o sea is used as a sarcastic remark that can be translated as "obviously," "duh," "come on," "give me a break," or "I mean," depending on the context. Let's observe that use in action:

 

¡Ay pues, obvio que va a querer! ¡Porque nadie le dice que no a una chica popular, o sea!

Oh well, [it's] obvious that he is going to want to! Because no one says no to a popular girl, duh!

Captions 21-22, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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You may also notice that in colloquial speech, o sea is sometimes used incessantly among certain groups or individuals as a filler word in the same way that certain English-speakers (e.g. Valley girls, etc.) constantly use the word, “like.”

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O Sea Should Be Two Words!

Finally, keep in mind that the expression, o sea, is written as two words, and it is incorrect to write it as a single word (osea means "bony"!). Furthermore, it is sometimes used as an alternative for the expression o séase, which should be also avoided. 


That's all for today. We invite you to incorporate this useful expression into your vocabulary, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

 

Gustar vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception - Part 1

The verb gustar, or Spanish equivalent of "to like," tends to confuse English speakers because, in terms of the relationship between a sentence's subject and object, it functions in exactly the opposite way. To better understand this, let's define these two terms:

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Generally speaking, the subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that performs an action.

 

The object of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that receives the action of the sentence's verb. 

 

A very simple example of this concept would be: "I threw the ball," where "I" is the subject, or performer of the action, and "the ball" is the object, or recipient of the action. 

 

That said, with the English verb "to like," it is the subject of the sentence that "does the liking." Let's look at a few simple examples:

 

She likes pizza ("She" is the subject who performs the action of liking onto the object, "pizza").

 

Anna and John like dogs ("Anna and John" is the subject; they perform the action of liking onto the object, "dogs"). 

 

We like you ("We" is the subject that performs the action of liking onto the object, "you"). 

 

In Spanish, on the other hand, the subject, or performer of the action, is the person, place, or thing that, in English, is "being liked." To see this in action, let's take a look at some captions from a Yabla video on this very topic:

 

Me gusta mucho este parqueA ti también te gusta ¿verdad? Sí, me gustan las plantas. Sí, a mí me gustan las plantas y las flores y los árboles

I really like this parkYou like it too, right? Yes, I like the plants. Yes, I like the plants and the flowers and the trees.

Captions 9-13, Conversaciones en el parque - Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

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In Spanish, este parque (this park), las plantas (the plants), and las plantas y las flores y los árboles (the plants and the flowers and the trees) are the subjects of these sentences, as they are thought to "cause" the implied objects yo (I) and tú (you) to like them. In their English translations, on the other hand, "I" and "you" are the subjects of the sentences, whereas "this park," "it," "the plants," and "the plants and the flowers and the trees" are the objects that receive the action of liking. 

 

While this difference in perception may confuse English speakers, it is useful to note that the English verb "to please" functions similarly to "gustar" in terms of the subject-object relationship. Therefore, it may be a good exercise to substitute this verb for "to like" when translating Spanish sentences with "gustar" or attempting to formulate new ones. Let's take a look at our previous example, this time translated with the verb "to please": 

 

Me gusta mucho este parque. A ti también te gusta ¿verdad? Sí, me gustan las plantas. Sí, a mí me gustan las plantas y las flores y los árboles. 

This park really pleases me. It also pleases you, right? Yes, the plants please me. Yes, the plants and the flowers and the trees please me. 

 

To reiterate this concept, let's take a look at some additional examples where the verb gustar has been translated as "to like" while providing their alternative translations with "to please":

 

1.

Me gustan mucho las chaquetas de piel.

I really like leather jackets.

Caption 32, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: 

Me gustan mucho las chaquetas de piel

Leather jackets really please me. 

 

2.

Yo te quiero así y me gustas porque eres diferente

I love you like that, and I like you because you're different

Caption 12, Carlos Vives, Shakira - La Bicicleta

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION:

Yo te quiero así y me gustas porque eres diferente 

I love you like that, and you please me because you're different

 

3. 

¿Te gusta trabajar aquí, te gusta? -No, no me gusta, no.

Do you like working here, do you like it? -No, I don't like it, no.

Caption 77, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: 

¿Te gusta trabajar aquí, te gusta? -No, no me gusta, no. 

Does working here please you, does it please you? -No, it doesn't please me, no. 


Note that while the alternative translations are grammatically correct, their primary purpose here is to help us to understand how the Spanish verb "gustar" functions. As in everyday speech, it would be far less common to hear someone say "You please me" than "I like you," the translations with "to like" are preferable in most cases.

 

Now that we are familiar with the different manners in which the English and Spanish languages express the concept of "liking," it's time to learn how to conjugate the verb "gustar," which we'll cover in the next lesson. That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions.

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