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What's the difference between fue and estuvo?

They both mean was (past).

I know in the present, Spanish makes a difference between ser = to be (permanent) and estar = to be (temporary).

  • fue comes from ser.
  • estuvo comes from estar.

fue and estuvo referring to something that happened in a specific moment of the past.

If you wanted to refer to something that happened regularly in the past, you would use:

  • era for ser
  • estaba for estar.

Despite knowing this, I don't fully understand the difference between fue and estuvo? When would you use one and not the other?

Thanks!

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    era and fue provide different context: you would say Bush fue presidente de EE.UU. entre 2000 y 2008, as well as Bush era el presidente de EE.UU. en 2004. Then, for estuvo, say Bush estuvo de presidente EE.U.. entre 2000 y 2008. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Aug 10 '15 at 12:44
  • @fedorqui just to double check how does era and fue change the meaning in the examples you posted? they seem to be the same to me? Thanks! – big_smile Aug 12 '15 at 12:14
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If you wanted to refer to something that happened regularly in the past, you would use:

era for ser

estaba for estar.

Well, I don't think that you would use one over the other in order to refer to something that happened regularly in the past. You use one over the other regarding the nature of the event.

For example, you say "estar enfadado" and not "ser enfadado". Thus, to describe that someone was "regularly upset in the past"

Mi abuelo estaba siempre enfadado. Mi abuelo estaba siempre fumando

El hotel estaba siempre lleno en verano, porque era cuando todo el mundo tenía vacaciones

On the contrary, you say that someone "es amable" not "está amable", so to convey that someone "was regularly kind (when you saw him/her)":

Mi abuelo era siempre muy amable cada vez que íbamos a visitarle

Cristina era elegida "reina del baile" todos los veranos (You say someone is rey/reina del baile, not that someone estaba reina del baile)

So I think that you had a great idea considering that

fue comes from ser.

estuvo comes from estar.

That could be a good rule of thumb to tell between using one or the other. If you were going to say the same thing but using a present simple tense, would you use ser? Then pick fue. Would you use estar? the pick estaba.

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