Be in Spanish | English to Spanish Translation and Dictionary
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Learn more about how to use ser and estar in the Spanish Grammar section.
be
[biː]
En el inglés hablado, y en el escrito en estilo coloquial, el verbo be se contrae de forma que I am se transforma en I'm, he/she/it is se transforman en he's/she's/it's y you/we/they are se transforman en you're/we're/they're. Las formas negativas is not, are not, was not y were not se transforman en isn't, aren't, wasn't y weren't.
(present I am, you/we/they are, he/she/it is, pt were [wɜː(r)], 1st and 3rd person singular was [wɒz], pp been [biːn])
intransitive verb
1. ser (indicating permanent quality, condition)
  • sugar is sweet el azúcar es dulce
  • it's two meters wide tiene dos metros de ancho
  • three and two are five tres y dos (son) cinco
  • she is English es inglesa
  • he is clever es inteligente
  • I'm a doctor soy médico
2. estar (indicating temporary state)
  • to be wet/dry estar seco(a)/mojado(a)
  • the bottle is empty/full la botella está vacía/llena
  • to be cold/hot tener frío/calor; (of person) estar frío(a)/caliente (of thing)
  • it's cold/hot hace frío/calor (weather)
  • to be hungry/thirsty tener hambre/sed
  • to be right tener razón
  • to be wrong estar equivocado(a)
  • to be twenty (years old) tener veinte años
3. ser (with time, date)
  • it's six o'clock son las seis (en punto)
  • when is the concert? ¿cuándo es el concierto?
  • today is the tenth hoy estamos a (día) diez
  • what day is it today? ¿qué día es hoy?
  • it's a year since I saw her hace un año que no la veo
4. estar (with location)
  • where is the station? ¿dónde está la estación?
  • is this where you work? ¿es aquí donde trabajas?
  • to be at home estar en casa
  • where was I? ¿por dónde iba? (after disgression)
5. ser, costar (with cost)
  • how much are the shoes? ¿cuánto son or cuestan los zapatos?
  • how much is it? ¿cuánto es?
  • how much is a kilo of beef? ¿a cuánto está el kilo de ternera?
6. estar (with health)
  • how are you? ¿cómo estás?
  • I'm fine estoy bien
  • he's better está mejor
7. (with imperatives)
  • be good! ¡sé bueno!
  • be still! ¡estate quieto!
  • don't be stupid! ¡no seas tonto!
  • let's be reasonable seamos razonables
8. (with question tags)
  • she's beautiful, isn't she? es guapa, ¿verdad?
  • they're big, aren't they? son grandes, ¿verdad?
  • you aren't from around here, are you? tú no eres de aquí, ¿no?
9. [as past participle of go]
  • I have been to London he estado en Londres
auxiliary verb
10. estar (in continuous tenses)
  • to be doing something estar haciendo algo
  • she is/was laughing se está/estaba riendo
  • I'm leaving tomorrow me voy mañana
  • I've been waiting for hours llevo horas esperando
11. ser (in passives)
  • six employees were made redundant fueron despedidos seis empleados
  • they have been seen in London han sido vistos or se les ha visto en Londres
  • he was killed lo mataron
  • she is respected by all todos la respetan
12. (followed by infinitive)
  • the house is to be sold la casa se va a vender
  • he was never to see them again nunca volvería a verlos
  • you are not to mention this to anyone no debes decir esto a nadie
be [biː] am is are was were been (participle:past)
intransitive verb
1 (linking nouns, noun phrases, pronouns) ser
he's a pianist es pianista; he wants to be a doctor quiere ser médico; Monday's a holiday el lunes es fiesta; two and two are four dos y dos son cuatro; it's me! ¡soy yo!; it was me fui yo; who wants to be Hamlet? ¿quién quiere hacer de or ser Hamlet?; you be the patient and I'll be the doctor tú eres el enfermo y yo seré el médico; if I were you ... yo en tu lugar ...; yo que tú ... (informal)
I'm not Sue, I'm Mary
2 (possession) ser
she's his sister es su hermana; it's mine es mío
3 (characteristics seen as inherent) ser
the sky is blue el cielo es azul; it's (made of) plastic es de plástico; they're English son ingleses; he's tall es alto; it's round/enormous es redondo/enorme; she is boring es aburrida; I used to be poor but now I'm rich antes era pobre pero ahora soy rico; if I were rich si fuera rico
he's the cheerful sort they are friendly
I'm from the south soy del sur; the book is in French el libro es en francés
Use [estar] with past participles used as adjectives describing the results of an action or process:
it's broken está roto; he's dead está muerto
it's made of wood
4 (changeable or temporary state) estar
it's dirty está sucio; she's bored/ill está aburrida/enferma; how are you? ¿cómo estás?; ¿qué tal estás?; how are you now? ¿qué tal te encuentras ahora?; I'm very well, thanks estoy muy bien, gracias
In certain expressions where English uses [be] + adjective to describe feelings ([be cold]/[hot]/[hungry]/[thirsty]), Spanish uses [tener] with a noun:
I'm cold/hot tengo frío/calor; my feet are cold tengo los pies fríos; I'm hungry/thirsty tengo hambre/sed; be good! ¡pórtate bien!; you're late llegas tarde
I'm better now
5 (age)
"how old is she?" — "she's nine" —¿cuántos años tiene? —tiene nueve años; she will be two tomorrow mañana cumple dos años; when I'm old cuando sea viejo; when I was young cuando era joven
6 (take place) ser
the meeting's today la reunión es hoy; the service will be at St Ninian's Church el oficio será en la iglesia de San Ninian
7 (be situated) estar
Edinburgh is in Scotland Edimburgo está en Escocia; it's on the table está sobre or en la mesa; where is the Town Hall? ¿dónde está or queda el ayuntamiento?; it's 5 km to the village el pueblo está or queda a 5 kilómetros; he won't be here tomorrow mañana no estará aquí; we've been here for ages hace mucho tiempo que estamos aquí; llevamos aquí mucho tiempo; estamos aquí desde hace mucho tiempo
here you are(, take it) aquí tienes(, tómalo)
there's the church ahí está la iglesia
8 (impersonal use) (referring to weather) hacer
it's hot/cold hace calor/frío; it's too hot hace demasiado calor; it's fine hace buen tiempo
(referring to time, date etc) ser
it's eight o'clock son las ocho; it's morning in New York now en Nueva York ahora es por la mañana; wake up, it's morning despierta, es de día; what's the date (today)? ¿qué fecha es hoy?; it's 3 May or the 3rd of May es 3 de mayo; it's Thursday today hoy es jueves
But note the following alternatives with [estar]:
it's 3 May or the 3rd of May estamos a 3 de mayo; it's Thursday today hoy estamos a jueves
(asking and giving opinion) ser
is it certain that ...? ¿es verdad or cierto que ...?; it is easy to make a mistake es fácil cometer un fallo; is it fair that she should be punished while ...? ¿es justo que se la castigue mientras que ...?
it is [possible] that
it is possible that he'll come es posible que venga; puede (ser) que venga; it is impossible to study all the time es imposible estar siempre estudiando; it is unbelievable that ... es increíble que ...; it's not clear whether ... no está claro si ...; it would be wrong for us to do that no estaría bien que nosotros hiciésemos eso
(emphatic) ser
it's me who does all the work soy yo quien hace todo el trabajo; it was Peter who phoned fue Peter quien llamó; why is it that she's so successful? ¿cómo es que tiene tanto éxito?; ¿por qué tiene tanto éxito?; it was then that ... fue entonces cuando ...
9 (exist) haber
there is/are hay; what is (there) in that room? ¿qué hay en esa habitación?
there's a spider in the bath
there is nothing more beautiful no hay nada más bello; is there anyone at home? ¿hay alguien en casa?
there were two apple trees in the garden
there were six road accidents here last year el año pasado hubo seis accidentes de tráfico aquí
I thought there would be problems
there must be an explanation debe de haber una explicación; there being no alternative solution ... al no haber or no habiendo otra solución ...; let there be light! ¡hágase la luz!; there are three of us somos tres; there were three of them eran tres; after the shop there's the bus station después de la tienda está la estación de autobuses
note See culture box in entry there.
10 (cost)
how much was it? ¿cuánto costó?; the book is £20 el libro vale or cuesta 20 libras; how much is it? ¿cuánto es?; (when paying) ¿qué le debo? (formal)
11 (visit)
has the postman been? ¿ha venido el cartero?; he has been and gone vino y se fue; I have been to see my aunt he ido a ver a mi tía; have you ever been to Glasgow? ¿has estado en Glasgow alguna vez?; I've been to China he estado en China
the postman has already been
12 (in noun compounds) futuro
mother to be futura madre or mamá (f)
my wife to be mi futura esposa
13 (in set expressions)
to be or not to be ser o no ser
been and
you've been and done it now! ¡buena la has hecho! (informal); that dog of yours has been and dug up my flowers! ¡tu perro ha ido y me ha destrozado las flores!
you're busy enough as it is estás bastante ocupado ya con lo que tienes; ya tienes suficiente trabajo
as things are tal como están las cosas; be that as it may sea como fuere
if it hadn't been for ...
if it hadn't been for you or (formal) had it not been for you, we would have lost si no hubiera sido por ti or de no haber sido por ti, habríamos perdido
let me be! ¡déjame en paz!
if that's what you want to do, then so be it si eso es lo que quieres hacer, adelante
what is it to you? ¿a ti qué te importa?
what's it to be? (in bar etc) ¿qué va a ser?; ¿qué vas a tomar?
auxiliary verb
1 (forming passive) ser
the house was destroyed by an earthquake la casa fue destruida por un terremoto
The passive is not used as often in Spanish as in English, active and reflexive constructions often being preferred:
the box had been opened habían abierto la caja; these cars are produced in Spain estos coches se fabrican en España; it is said that ... dicen que ...; se dice que ...
he was killed in action
he was killed by a terrorist lo mató un terrorista; she was killed in a car crash murió en un accidente de coche; resultó muerta en un accidente de coche (formal)
he was killed by robbers
what's to be done? ¿qué hay que hacer?
it's a film not to be missed es una película que no hay que perderse
we searched everywhere for him, but he was nowhere to be seen lo buscamos por todas partes pero no lo encontramos en ningún sitio
2 (forming continuous) estar
it's raining está lloviendo; what are you doing? ¿qué estás haciendo?; ¿qué haces?; don't distract me when I'm driving no me distraigas cuando estoy conduciendo; he's always grumbling siempre está quejándose
I've been waiting for her
he was studying until the early hours estuvo estudiando hasta la madrugada
Use the present simple to talk about planned future events and the ir a construction to talk about intention:
they're coming tomorrow vienen mañana; "it's a pity you aren't coming with us" — "but I am coming!" —¡qué pena que no vengas con nosotros! —¡sí que voy!; will you be seeing her tomorrow? ¿la verás or la vas a ver mañana?; will you be needing more? ¿vas a necesitar más?; I shall be seeing him voy a verlo; I'll be seeing you hasta luego; nos vemos; especially (LAm)
The imperfect tense can be used for continuous action in the past:
he was driving too fast conducía demasiado rápido
3 (verb substitute)
he's older than you are es mayor que tú; he isn't as happy as he was no está tan contento como antes; "he's going to complain about you" — "oh, is he?" —va a quejarse de ti —¿ah, sí?; "I'm worried" — "so am I" —estoy preocupado —yo también; "I'm not ready" — "neither am I" —no estoy listo —yo tampoco; "you're tired" — "no, I'm not" —estás cansado —no, ¡qué va!; "you're not eating enough" — "yes I am" —no comes lo suficiente —que sí; "they're getting married" — "oh, are they?" (showing surprise) —se casan —¿ah, sí? or —¡no me digas!; "he isn't very happy" — "oh, isn't he?" —no está muy contento —¿ah, no?
"they weren't surprised" — "oh, weren't they?
"he's always late, isn't he?" — "yes, he is" —siempre llega tarde, ¿verdad? —(pues) sí; "is it what you expected?" — "no, it isn't" —¿es esto lo que esperabas? —(pues) no; "she's pretty" — "no, she isn't" —es guapa —¡qué va!
(in question tags)
he's handsome, isn't he? es guapo, ¿verdad?; es guapo, ¿no?; es guapo, ¿no es cierto?; it was fun, wasn't it? fue divertido, ¿verdad?; fue divertido, ¿no?; she wasn't happy, was she? no era feliz, ¿verdad?; so he's back again, is he? así que ha vuelto, ¿eh?; you're not ill, are you? ¿no estarás enfermo?
modal verb
(with infinitive construction)
1 (must, have to)
you're to put on your shoes tienes que ponerte los zapatos; he's not to open it no debe abrirlo; que no lo abra; I am to do it he de hacerlo yo; soy yo el que debe hacerlo; I am not to speak to him no tengo permiso para hablar con él; I wasn't to tell you his name no podía or debía decirte su nombre
you are to follow these instructions exactly you are not to touch that no, YOU are to do it! this door is not to be opened
2 (should) deber
he is to be congratulated on his work debemos felicitarlo por su trabajo; am I to understand that ...? ¿debo entender que ...?; she wrote "My Life", not to be confused with Bernstein's book of the same name escribió "Mi Vida", que no debe confundirse con la obra de Bernstein que lleva el mismo título
he starred in the film "Blue Max", not to be confused with ... / his later film, ....
he was to have come yesterday tenía que or debía haber venido ayer; he is to be pitied es digno de lástima
3 (will)
the talks are to start tomorrow las conversaciones darán comienzo mañana; her house is to be sold su casa se pondrá a la venta; they are to be married in the summer se casarán en el verano
4 (can)
these birds are to be found all over the world estos pájaros se encuentran por todo el mundo; little traffic was to be seen había poco tráfico; you weren't to know no tenías por qué saberlo
5 (expressing destiny)
this was to have serious repercussions esto iba a tener serias repercusiones; they were never to return jamás regresaron; it was not to be no quiso el destino que así fuera
she had always wanted to go to Russia, but it was not to be he dreamed of being an actor, but it was not to be
6 (in conditional sentences)
you must work harder if you are to succeed debes esforzarte más si quieres triunfar; if it was or were to snow ... si nevase or nevara ...
if I were you I would refuse
if I were to leave the job, would you replace me? si yo dejara el puesto, ¿me sustituirías?
the car is to be sold
"Ser" or "estar"?You can use "ser":
when defining or identifying by linking two nouns or noun phrases:
Paris is the capital of France París es la capital de Francia
He was the most hated man in the village Era el hombre más odiado del pueblo
to describe essential or inherent characteristics (e.g. colour, material, nationality, race, shape, size etc):
His mother is German Su madre es alemana
She was blonde Era rubia
with most impersonal expressions not involving past participles:
It is important to be on time Es importante llegar a tiempo
Está claro que is an exception:
It is obvious you don't understand Está claro que no lo entiendes
when telling the time or talking about time or age:
It is ten o'clock Son las diez
It's very late. Let's go home Es muy tarde. Vamos a casa
He lived in the country when he was young Vivió en el campo cuando era joven
to indicate possession or duty:
It's mine Es mío
This is your responsibility Este asunto es responsabilidad tuya
with events in the sense of "take place":
The 1992 Olympic Games were in Barcelona Los Juegos Olímpicos de 1992 fueron en Barcelona
"Where is the exam?" - "It's in Room 1" "¿Dónde es el examen?" - "Es en el Aula Número 1"
Compare this usage with that of estar (see below) to talk about location of places, objects and people.
You can use "estar":
to talk about location of places, objects and people:
"Where is Zaragoza?" - "It's in Spain" "¿Dónde está Zaragoza?" - "Está en España"
Your glasses are on the bedside table Tus gafas están en la mesilla de noche
But use ser with events in the sense of "take place" (see above).
to talk about changeable state, condition or mood:
The teacher is ill La profesora está enferma
The coffee's cold El café está frío
How happy I am! ¡Qué contento estoy
Feliz, however, which is seen as more permanent than contento, is used mainly with ser.
to form progressive tenses:
We're having lunch. Is it ok if I call you later? Estamos comiendo. Te llamaré luego, ¿vale?
Both "ser" and "estar" can be used with past participles
Use ser in passive constructions:
This play was written by Lorca Esta obra fue escrita por Lorca
He was shot dead (by a terrorist group) Fue asesinado a tiros (por un grupo terrorista)
The passive is not used as often in Spanish as it is in English.
Use estar with past participles to describe the results of a previous action or event:
We threw them away because they were broken Los tiramos a la basura porque estaban rotos
He's dead Está muerto
Compare the use of ser + past participle which describes action and estar + past participle which describes result in the following:
The window was broken by the firemen La ventana fue rota por los bomberos
The window was broken La ventana estaba rota
It was painted around 1925 Fue pintado hacia 1925
The floor is painted a dark colour El suelo está pintado de color oscuro
Ser and estar are both used in impersonal expressions with past participles. As above, the use of ser implies action while the use of estar implies result:
It is understood that the work was never finished Es sabido que el trabajo nunca se llegó a terminar
It is a proven fact that vaccinations save many lives Está demostrado que las vacunas salvan muchas vidas
"Ser" and "estar" with adjectives
Some adjectives can be used with both ser and estar but the meaning changes completely depending on the verb:
He's clever Es listo
Are you ready? ¿Estás listo?
Chemistry is boring La química es aburrida
I'm bored Estoy aburrido
Other adjectives can also be used with both verbs but the use of ser describes a characteristic while the use of estar implies a change:
He's very handsome Es muy guapo
You look great in that dress! Estás muy guapa con ese vestido
He's slim Es delgado
You're (looking) very slim ¡Estás muy delgada
be
name of the letter B
be por be in detail
esto tiene las tres bes (bueno, bonito y barato) this is really very nice; this is just perfect
be chica (México) V
be larga (Latinoamérica)be grande (México) B
be
baa
Verb Conjugations for ser
Gerund: siendo
The irregular conjugations of this verb are in red.
Indicative
PresentPreteritImperfectConditionalFuture
yosoyfuieraseríaseré
eresfuisteerasseríasserás
él/ella/Ud.esfueeraseríaserá
nosotrossomosfuimoséramosseríamosseremos
vosotrossoisfuisteiseraisseríaisseréis
ellos/ellas/Uds.sonfueroneranseríanserán
View complete conjugation for ser
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