HomeQ&AFue, era & estaba....when to use which one?

Fue, era & estaba....when to use which one?


I think i somewhat understand the use of "was" , but sometimes its confusing. Can anyone explain to me how you know when to use which one in a sentence

The priest was catholic. that is a permanent situation, so would you use fue? and use estaba for a temporary attribute?

and where does era come in?

updated DIC 29, 2009
posted by pepsiwriter37

1 Answer


You might want to read our Reference article on Ser and Estar expounding on the pitfalls of using the "temporary" or "permanent" litmus test for which form of "to be" to use. The classic example is death. Estar is used while there is no more permanent condition than being dead. (save some Biblical examples.)

In our case, what if the priest renounced his vows, left the Church, and became an atheist. Was his being a priest a permanent condition?

Ser is the proper choice in this context of the priest was Catholic. However, the action is not completed in the past. There is no starting point, ending point, or duration mentioned. In grammar parlance the action in not "perfected". Therefore, the imperfect form of Ser is used. Era is the proper choice for "was" in this context.

By the way, in the article, if you read it, Catholic is a classification in the CID method. The priest is not a Buddhist, a Protestant, a Jew, a Muslim, etc, but is classified as belonging to the group named Catholic.

updated DIC 29, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
There's also a reference article that deals with simple preterit/imperfect question. (this comment is not directed at you, Quentin). - samdie, DIC 29, 2009
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.