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Quick answer
"Estuve" is a form of "estar", a copular verb which is often translated as "to be". "Estaba haciendo" is a phrase which is often translated as "he was doing". Learn more about the difference between "estaba haciendo" and "estuve" below.
estaba haciendo(
ehs
-
tah
-
bah
 
ah
-
syehn
-
doh
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (he, she, or it was carrying out; third person singular)
a. he was doing
Cuando llamé a Carlos, estaba haciendo la tarea de matemáticas.When I called Carlos, he was doing his math homework.
b. she was doing
No sé qué estaba haciendo, pero parecía muy concentrada.I don't know what she was doing, but she seemed to be very focused.
c. it was doing
¿El gobierno no hizo nada por ellos? - Sí, estaba haciendo lo posible por extraditarlos.And didn't the government do anything for them? - Yes, it was doing all it could to extradite them.
d. was doing
En aquel entonces, María estaba haciendo la carrera de historia.Maria was doing a history degree back then.
2.
A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
(formal)
(you were carrying out; second person singular)
a. you were doing
Cuando estaba haciendo la tareas de la casa, ¿no soñaba a veces con una vida totalmente distinta?When you were doing the housework, didn't you sometimes dream of a totally different life?
3. (I was carrying out; first person singular)
a. I was doing
Cuando era joven, siempre estaba haciendo algo, pero ahora me cuesta moverme.When I was young, I was always doing something, but I find it difficult to move now.
4. (he, she, or it was producing; third person singular)
a. he was making
Luis dijo que estaba haciendo una casa de juguete para sus hijas.Luis said he was making a dollhouse for his daughters.
b. she was making
Cuando llegamos, estaba haciendo la cena.When we arrived, she was making dinner.
c. it was making
Apagué el aire acondicionado porque estaba haciendo mucho ruido.I turned off the air-conditioning because it was making a lot of noise.
d. was making
Juan estaba haciendo un pastel y se le quemó.Juan was making a cake and he burned it.
5.
A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
(formal)
(you were producing; second person singular)
a. you were making
¿Las natillas que estaba haciendo son para la comida o para la cena?Is the custard you were making for lunch or for dinner?
6. (I was producing; first person singular)
a. I was making
¿Qué hacías en la cocina? - Estaba haciendo un bizcocho porque sé que les gusta.What were you making in the kitchen? - I was making a sponge cake because I know you like it.
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estar(
ehs
-
tahr
)
A copular verb links the subject of a clause to the predicate (e.g. My brother is tall).
1. (used to express a quality)
a. to be
Este pastel de chocolate está delicioso.This chocolate cake is delicious.
Este hotel está muy lujoso.This hotel is very luxurious.
2. (used to express an emotion or state)
a. to be
Estoy enojada porque me acaban de dar una multa de estacionamiento.I am angry because I just got a parking ticket.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
3. (to be located)
a. to be
La casa está delante de la iglesia.The house is in front of the church.
4. (to be present)
a. to be
No está en casa.He's not home.
5. (to find oneself; used with "de")
a. to be on (vacation, trip, call)
Estaremos de vacaciones en Europa el verano entero.We're going to be on vacation in Europe all summer long.
b. to be in (luck)
¡Estás de suerte! Me queda un par en ese color.You're in luck! I have one pair left in that color.
c. to be working as
Está de recepcionista hasta que consiga un mejor trabajo.He's working as a receptionist until he finds something better.
6. (to feel)
a. to be
Está triste ahora que no tiene novia.He is sad now that he doesn't have a girlfriend.
7. (to appear)
a. to look
¡Estás genial con las gafas nuevas!You look great with your new glasses!
8. (to visit)
a. to stay
Gabriel está con su padre esta noche.Gabriel is staying with his father tonight.
9. (to be done)
a. to be ready
La comida ya está. ¡Comamos!The food is ready. Let's eat!
10. (to exist)
a. to be
Luego está el trabajo que queda por hacer.Then there is the work that still needs to be done.
11. (to feel like; used with "para")
a. to be in the mood for
No estoy para tus estupideces a estas horas.I am not in the mood for your nonsense at this time of night.
12. (to come down with; used with "con")
a. to have
Está con gripe desde el lunes.He's had the flu since Monday.
13. (to fit)
a. to be
¿Esta falda queda bien o está muy apretada?Does this skirt look good or is it too tight?
14. (to be understood)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
No quiero que camines sola por la noche, ¿está?I don't want you walking alone at night, understood?
Nos encontraremos a las siete para ir al cine, ¿estamos?We'll meet at seven to go to the movie, all right?
15. (to support; used with "por")
a. to be in favor of
Los estudiantes están por un aumento en ayuda financiera de parte de la universidad.The students are in favor of the university providing more financial aid.
16. (to be in agreement; used with "con")
a. to agree with
Estoy con Ana Sofía; no quiero escuchar más peleas entre ustedes.I agree with Ana Sofía. I don't want to hear anymore fighting between the two of you.
17. (with temperatures; used with "a")
a. to be
¡El termómetro dice que está a 25 grados Fahrenheit pero que se siente como 6!The thermometer says it's 25 degrees Fahrenheit out but that it feels like 6!
18. (with dates; used with "a")
a. to be
Estamos a martes, 5 de enero.It is Tuesday, January 5th.
19. (with seasons; used with "en")
a. to be
Mientras el hemisferio norte está en invierno, el hemisferio sur está en verano.It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere when it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
20. (with distances; used with "a")
a. to be
El banco está a tres cuadras de la plaza central.The bank is three blocks from the town square.
21. (used to express that something is yet to be known; used with "por" and infinitive)
a. to remain to be
Está por verse si lloverá en la tarde.It remains to be seen whether it will rain this afternoon.
22. (used to express imminence; used with "por" and infinitive)
a. to be going to
Las nubes en la distancia indican que estará por llover esta noche.The clouds in the distance indicate that it is going to rain tonight.
23. (used to negate; used with "sin" and infinitive)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Tengo tres libros que están sin terminar.I have three books that I still have to finish reading.
Estoy sin comer desde temprano esta mañana.I haven't eaten anything since early this morning.
An auxiliary verb, or helper verb, is a conjugated verb that comes before a main verb and determines the main verb's tense, mood, or aspect (e.g. I have gone.).
24. (used with a gerund)
a. to be
Está limpiando la casa.He's cleaning the house.
25. (used with a participle)
a. to be
El cuarto está organizado, ¡así que no hagas desorden!The room is organized. Don't make a mess!
estarse
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
26. (to remain)
a. to stay
Estate quieto y no digas ni una palabra.Stay still and don't say a word.
b. to keep
Es importante estarse tranquilo ante un desastre.It's important to keep calm in the face of disaster.
c. to remain
Los estudiantes se estuvieron callados mientras trabajaban en la biblioteca.The students remained quiet as they worked in the library.
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