UrGenT Help! Imperfect ser vs haber | SpanishDict Answers
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Okay i'm lost . I do not understand the difference between ser and haber in imperfect for example

"La casa era bonita" The house WAS pretty

"Hacia buen tiempo" The weather WAS fine

and explain auxiliary verbs please

Be very thorough when answering please!!!

  • Posted Feb 6, 2011
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3 Answers

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"Hacia buen tiempo" The weather WAS fine

That translation is a good one, but it is not literal at all. In Spanish we say "makes good" (Hace bueno) or "Makes good weather" (Hace buen tiempo) to mean that the weather is fine. Of course, you can't say those sentences in English, so you basically re-phrase them completely to get "The weather was fine", which uses a different verb and structure from the Spanish counterpart.

The same thing happens in imperfect, preterite, future, subjunctive and any tense you wish to know about.

1 Vote

The basic premise of your question is a bit off in that the verb used in the expression, "Hacía buen tiempo" is not in fact "haber" but "hacer."

To me, it seems that your question has more to do with a difference in (idiomatic) usage across the two languages than it does with a difference in verb tense.

In any case, you should realize that when translating from one language to another, it is sometimes pointless to try to justify the idiomatic uses of one language in terms of another language, because the bottom line is that each language developed its own respective idiomatic usages in isolation of one another. Therefore, when it comes to learning to speak the language, it is usually more important to simply understand the inherent meaning behind such phrases rather than to question why there is not a one-to-one translation between the languages. Again, the bottom line is that they are different languages. The fact of them being different languages often entails that various phenomena are looked at from a slightly different perspective.

You are likely to find numerous instances when translating from one language to another, where there does not exist a one-to-one correlation. In all such case, as previously stated, it is important that you simply understand what the semantic meaning of the phrase is (what idea is being conveyed) rather than understand why it is not structured the exact same way as its English (or any other language for that matter) counterpart(s).

That's not to say that knowing the "why" (in terms of comparative linguistics, especially in terms of the comparative historical developments of languages) is impossible. In fact I find the relative development of languages to be a fascinating topic, but the truth is that oftentimes, such developments or reasons for differences require quite a bit of research, and even with research you will find that many questions are unanswerable or have been at least partially obscured by the passage of time. Often these differences are attributable to an ever so slightly different way of looking at the world.

As it seems that English is your first language, it might be more productive on your part (in terms of finding an answer to the question "why the difference") to instead, as a starting point for further investigation, pose the question:

Why do we say (in English) There was good weather/the weather was good instead of saying It did good weather/the weather did good or (It) made good weather/(the weather) made good.

0 Vote

In regards to your second request, to "explain auxiliary verbs please," it may be that you are just unfamiliar with the terminology. An auxiliary verb (sometimes referred to as a "helper verb") is simply a verb that is attached to some verb phrase and which usually lends some particular aspectual or modal quality to the verb that it accompanies (the main verb) or it may also be used to form the passive voice.

In all cases, the auxiliary verb is conjugated to indicate the tense—person (1st, 2nd or 3rd), number (singular or plural) and temporal placement (is the action being described in the past, present or future in relation to the time of utterance). In addition, the main verb (also referred to as the lexical verb because it describes the lexical meaning of the verb phrase) follows the auxiliary (at least in Spanish and English, this is the structural relationship) and presents itself in one of the impersonal verb forms (Spanish: infinitivo, participio, gerundio/English: infinitive, past participle, present participle).

If you are still a bit puzzled by this explanation, have a look at these examples of auxiliary verbs in action and notice what effect each has on the main verb of the verb phrase. In each case, the main verb describes the actual action being performed; whereas, the auxiliary verb performs one of the functions described above:

Spanish English Auxiliary Verb Function
No he comido I have not eaten He/have Perfective Aspect (used to form perfect tenses
Debo cumplir con mi misión I must complete my mission Debo/must Modality (used to indicate obligation)
¿Puede ayudarme? Can he help me? Puede/can Modality (used to indicate capability)
Fue hecho público It was made public fue/was Forms the passive voice
Estoy buscando algo I am looking for something estoy/am Progressive Aspect (used in forming the progressive tenses)

This brief list should in no way be interpreted to be an exhaustive list of auxiliary verbs. More importantly, it must be realized that there exist in Spanish certain combinations (perífrasis verbales) which often do not carry a one-to-one translation with their English counterparts. The idea is further compounded when one considers that English, in order to compensate for its lack of morphological diversity (especially in regards to the subjunctive mood), relies on an entire set of "modal auxiliaries" (might, may, could, can, etc) which exhibit no direct counterparts in Spanish.

You might find it helpful to investigate the ideas of perífrasis and modal auxiliaries further (that is, search beyond the links which I have already provided). What you find might be enlightening.

As an aside (and to further illustrate the idea that Spanish and English do not always have a one to one correlation), it is interesting to note that in regards to the simple future tense, English relies on the auxiliary verb "will" in order to form such tenses (For example: I will eat); whereas, in Spanish, this meaning has been incorporated into the verb ending itself (comeré). It is interesting to note, however, that during the development of Spanish, the future was indeed once expressed by the inclusion of an auxiliary verb. In this case, however, the auxiliary verb actually followed as can be noted by the following passage:

Vengar nos emos dellos del mal que nos an fecho.

There are a couple of things worth mentioning here. One is the differences in spelling exhibited by the forms of the verb which eventually became the verb haber (i.e. emos → hemos and an → han). In addition, you can note that there once existed the contraction dellos (de + ellos) which no longer exists in modern Spanish. Finally, note the antiquated spelling of the verb hacer (fecho → hecho), a spelling which still exists in both Galician and Asturian. In contemporary Spanish, the passage above would look like this:

Nos vengaremos de ellos por el mal que nos han hecho.

And in English:

We will take revenge on them for the evil that they have done

Here, again, it is interesting to note each of the morphological differences that exists in between the contemporary English, the contemporary Spanish and the older Spanish verb forms.

In any case, I hope that this answered your question.

  • geeeez, izan, she did ask for a thorough answer, jeje, nice:) - 00494d19 Feb 6, 2011 flag
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