Chapter 20   --   Being and Knowing

To Be or Not To Be

The Spanish language uses two verbs to express the idea of being, ser and estar.   Spanish separates the idea of being into two parts.

  1. the verb ser is used to:

          A. express a permanent characteristic of a person, place, or thing.

                   She is a human.                               Ella es humana.                                    [She will always be a human.]

                   Diamonds are very hard.                   Los diamantes son muy duros.              [Diamonds are hard.]

                   Joseph is from Italy.                         José es de italia.                                   [His birthplace will never change.]

          B. express the hour of the day, a date, or time of the year

                   It is one o’clock.                                Es la una.

                   It is ten o’clock in the morning.           Son las diez en la mañana.

                   It is still early.                                    Todavía es temprano.

                   Today is Monday, January 3.              Hoy es lunes, el 3 de enero.

                   It is Summer.                                      Es verano.

          C. express possession

                   This is Maria’s book.                         Este es el libro de María.

          D. form impersonal expressions about something more or less permanent

                   It is excellent to be alive.                            Es excelente ser vivo.

                   It is good to have a competent leader.         Es bueno tener líder competente.

          E. form the passive voice (see chapter 17)


  2. the verb estar is used to:

          A. express location

                   The river is east of here.                   El rio está al este de aquí.

                   John is in California.                         Juán está en California.

                   Mary is with the supervisor.              María está con el jefe.

                   Phillip is in a meeting.                       Felipe está en una reunión

          B. express emotions or temporary conditions

                   He is very happy.                              Él está muy feliz.

                   The temperature is high.                     La temperatura está alta.

         C. to emphasize an action that is currently in progress

                   The children are playing.                    Los niños están jugando.

                   They are running in a race.                Estàn corriendo en una carrera.

                   He was talking rapidly.                      Estaba hablando rápidamente.

          D. express a figurative location

                   Well, it is Summer.                             Pués , estamos en el verano.


Getting to Know You

The Spanish language uses two verbs to express the idea of knowing, saber and conocer.   They are used to convey two senses of knowing.

          1. the verb saber is used to mean know facts, information, or techniques.

                   He knows a lot about Biology.                    Él sabe mucho de biología.

                   She knows where Spain is.                         Ella sabe donde está españa.

                   Who knows the answer?                             ¿ Quién sabe la respuesta?

                   One never knows the future.                       No se sabe el futuro.

                   She does not know Spanish.                       Ella no sabe el español.

                   Do you know how to swim?                       ¿ Sabes nadar?

                   Joseph knows a lot about computers.         José sabe mucho de ordenadores.

                   No-one knows the cause.                          Nadie sabe la causa.


          2. the verb conocer is used to be familiar with a person, place, or thing

                   I know his family.                                        Yo conozco a su familia.

                   From where do you know him?                   ¿De qué tú conoces a él?

                   Are you familiar with Spain?                       ¿Conoce usted españa?

                   Do you know her well?                               ¿Conoce a ella bién?

                   She is familiar with the problem.                  Ella conoce el problema.

                   Have you met Carmen?                              ¿Conoces a Carmen?

                   It is a pleasure to meet you.                        Mucho gusto conocerle.


This book is available from under item number 3352644. Books purchased from Lulu are accompanied by a complete list of irregular verbs and all of their forms.

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