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segunda-feira, 4 de março de 2013

Surviving in Rio - Ser and Estar, concepts

So, if you are planning to come to Brazil and you know nothing of Portuguese, well, one hint from a Brazilian teacher: know the difference between Ser and Estar.

SER is the verb that usually gives us the idea of identification or attachment. So, we have

1) Eu sou médico
2) Ele é casado
3) Nós somos generosos
4) Eles são adultos

Just 4 is truly an immutable condition, but the other three have all of them a sense of attachment, duration, a condition not expected to change. If you are married, people will not say it's a transitory situation, although the nature is of that, but people will say as a permanent condition, so it is expected.

Ele é casado
Ele está casado

The same with being generous and a doctor. Of course, you may change everything in your life and prove it is transitory conditions. What we are saying is that the statement in our culture always goes for the most convenient expression. Therefore,

5) Eu estou doente
6) Ele está atrasado
7) Vocês estão errados
8) Nós estamos cansados

This forms of the verb ESTAR are clearly to be seen as transitory as possible. If you are sick, you will not, or you will die, or heal. To be wrong is not a condition, but a consequence of some involvement in a situation. You will only use SER followed by one of this conditions if you want to state that someone is not only late in that situation, for he has been late since always. So, you say

Ele é atrasado

By saying this, you are severely saying that one is fated to be late by his own nature and constitution. But Estar can only be compared when we speak about characteristics or emotions. This verb also refers to location and cannot be confused with Ser for any reason. See

Ele está na praia
Ele é na praia

Eles estão no jogo de futebol
Eles são no jogo de futebol

Nós estamos de folga
Nós somos de folga

Eu estou de jaqueta
Eu sou de jaqueta

No way you can use Ser in those contexts. They only refer to location and situations that you cannot see an identification between the subject and the object or the situation. It is not something one is, but it is around or it is an achievement.


folga - break from work
jaqueta - jacket
jogo de futebol - soccer match
praia - beach
médico - doctor
casado - married
generoso - generous
adulto - adult
cansado - tired
errado - wrong
atrasado - late
doente - sick

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