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If proper spanish says we use Yo soy do we use Yo estoy too? In very formal situations'

  • Posted Feb 5, 2009
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I don't believe proper Spanish says that we use Yo soy. The advice I hear quoted here on this forum is that the subject pronoun should be ommited unless needed for clarification or emphasis. I do, however, see it used unnecessarily in some of my reading. I don't recall anything requiring it's inclusion to be more , though.

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If you want to emphasize the subject or eliminate ambiguity, use the pronoun.

-No hay nadie aquí.
-Yo estoy. (or, Estoy yo)

This puts stress on the subject: I'M here.

ÿl y yo estábamos muy cansados, y yo estaba enojado también.

Here, without the pronoun yo, we wouldn't know if the verb went with él or yo.

The use of ser or estar has nothing to do with formality.

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It is my understanding that "soy" should be used in cases of unchangeable situations such as stating your name, your birthplace, etc. "Estoy" should be used in changeable situations. Maybe those with more experience can elaborate on this better than I. I'm a beginner (sort of) too.

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Guillermo said:

It is my understanding that "soy" should be used in cases of unchangeable situations such as stating your name, your birthplace, etc. "Estoy" should be used in changeable situations. Maybe those with more experience can elaborate on this better than I. I'm a beginner (sort of) too.

This comes up all the time, but it isn't a very consistent rule. Being dead isn't changeable, but we say está muerto. Search the archives for ser and estar, or go to the Learn section.

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Thanks James. I do actually remember my professor saying that it isn't a steadfast rule but generally speaking this may apply except, of course, when one dies.......LOL. That is pretty unchangeable...!!

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Guillermo said:

Thanks James. I do actually remember my professor saying that it isn't a steadfast rule but generally speaking this may apply except, of course, when one dies.......LOL. That is pretty unchangeable...!!
The problem with the rule (form the point of understanding) is that it often produces the right choice but for the wrong reason and in the other cases you're left wondering what's different).

Try the FAQ and look for "ser and estar". It's certainly one of the top half-dozen questions asked.

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For both "soy" and "estoy" the only possible pronoun (if it were expressed) is "yo". This is true, of course, with English "am" or French "suis" as well. Under normal circumstances the English and French speaker feel required to say the pronoun (even though it could be inferred) while the Spanish speaker, not only, doesn't feel required to do so but also wonders "Why are you emphasizing what is already obvious'"

In really colloquial exchanges in English the pronoun can be omitted (because it's obvious from context) but not under normal circumstances. e.g.
A - You're a liar!
B - Am not!
A - Are too!.

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Guillermo said:

It is my understanding that "soy" should be used in cases of unchangeable situations such as stating your name, your birthplace, etc. "Estoy" should be used in changeable situations. Maybe those with more experience can elaborate on this better than I. I'm a beginner (sort of) too.

"SER" is used to define, identify and classify. Your name identifies you (or classifies you), and your nationality classifies you, but where you are sitting right now does none of these things, so for that, you use "ESTAR".

Unless, of course, you define yourself as "a being here person", you identify yourself as "Mr. being here", or you classify yourself as "a 'being here' kind of person".

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