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Quick answer
"Was" is a form of "be", a copular verb which is often translated as "ser". "Used to be" is a phrase which is often translated as "solía ser". Learn more about the difference between "used to be" and "was" below.
used to be(
yust
 
tu
 
bi
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (general)
a. solía ser
This used to be the best school in the state.Esta solía ser la mejor escuela del estado.
b. solía estar
There is now a floral arrangement where the chair used to be.Ahora hay un arreglo floral donde la silla solía estar.
c. solía
It used to be unacceptable for a woman to work outside her home.Solía considerarse inaceptable que una mujer trabajara fuera de su hogar.
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be(
bi
)
A copular verb links the subject of a clause to the predicate (e.g. My brother is tall).
1. (used to indicate a permanent quality)
a. ser
The ocean is blue.El océano es azul.
2. (used to indicate a temporary state)
a. estar
I'm not in a good mood today.Hoy no estoy de buen humor.
The sky is cloudy.El cielo está nublado.
3. (followed by a noun)
a. ser
France is a member of the European Union.Francia es un miembro de la Unión Europea.
4. (used to indicate a profession or occupation)
a. ser
What do you do for a living? - I'm a doctor.¿A qué te dedicas? - Soy médico.
5. (used with dates)
a. ser
My birthday is July 26th.Mi cumpleaños es el 26 de julio.
b. estamos a (present day)
Today is Thursday.Hoy estamos a jueves.
6. (imperative mood)
a. ser
Be polite with guests.Sé educado con los invitados.
b. estar
Be quiet, and don't move!¡Estate callado y no te muevas!
7. (used to indicate age)
a. tener
My brother is 30 years old.Mi hermano tiene 30 años.
8. (to cost)
a. costar
One pizza and two drinks are $15.Una pizza y dos bebidas cuestan $15.
b. ser
Shipping is three dollars.El envío es tres dólares.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
9. (to take place)
a. ser
The party is at my place.La fiesta es en mi casa.
10. (to be present)
a. estar
My sister is in her room.Mi hermana está en su habitación.
11. (to visit; used with the present perfect)
a. estar
I've been to New York three times.He estado en Nueva York tres veces.
b. venir
The mailman has been here, but he didn't bring your package.El cartero ha venido, pero no trajo tu paquete.
An impersonal verb is a verb with no apparent subject (e.g. Llueve en España.).
12. (to exist)
a. haber
There are no trees on our road.No hay árboles en nuestra calle.
13. (used to indicate time)
a. ser
It is bedtime.Es hora de ir a dormir.
14. (used to refer to the weather)
a. hacer
It's too windy to go up in a balloon.Hace demasiado viento para ir en globo.
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.).
15. (with tenses of continuous action)
a. estar
I am reading a book.Estoy leyendo un libro.
16. (with the passive voice)
a. ser
The church was built in 1900.La iglesia fue construida en 1900.
17. (when substituting a verb)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I'm going to the party. - So am I.Voy a la fiesta. - Yo también.
It is a lovely day, isn't it?Es un día precioso, ¿verdad?
18. (with infinitive constructions)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I don't know how much salt is to be added to the sauce.No sé cuánta sal hay que añadir a la salsa.
The assignment is to be done by next Thursday.La tarea tiene que estar para el jueves que viene.
19. (used to indicate the future)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
My baby is due in three months.Mi bebé nacerá dentro de tres meses.
Tomorrow, I'm going to the dentist.Mañana voy al dentista.
20. (in conditional sentences)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Had it not been for his family, he would have never become an artist.Si no fuera por su familia, nunca habría sido artista.
If I were you, I would not go.Yo en tu lugar, no iría.
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