6

Below are Spanish-to-English translations from a lesson on Memrise.com:

este está más barato (this one is cheaper)

este es más nuevo (this one is newer)

Why is estar used when describing something as cheap, but a form of ser is used when describing something as new?

5

In English the verb To be is used in both cases but in Spanish those are two completely different verbs with different meanings. The full explanation could be a long one but the short one using your example is like this.

"este está más barato" means that at this moment one article is cheaper that other in a temporary situation likely to change shortly, however you could also say "este es más barato" meaning that one article is in generally/usually/always cheaper than the other.

The other example is similar and it states that the current state of one of the objects is being newer (less used) that the other, but that is also a situation that could change in time.

It is not the same to say "Esa mujer es muy bonita" oposite to "Esa mujer está muy bonita". I hope you now can think of situations where this last example applies.

ser is usually used to express a permanent state/property of something while estar is more of a temporary thing, but as I said these two are possibly the more complex verbs to learn.

BTW if you use the search tool on this site for "ser estar" you will get more than a hundred questions that will help you learn more about these two verbs.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks @DGaleano. I'm generally aware of the usages of 'estar' and 'ser', but because I'm not a native speaker, I lack the confidence when I encounter certain instances. Memrise offered two example sentences that are similar in structure, yet each used a different form of 'to be', all without offering an explanation as to why. My lack of confidence in the language resulted in self doubt. – Rock Anthony Johnson Dec 26 '15 at 20:28
  • 1
    @RockAnthonyJohnson The other example is «este es mas nuevo», with ser, not estar, so it implies that the situation is ulikely to change. Wouldn't you use ser to talk about age: «este es mas nuevo» = this one has been made more recently? – Jacinto Dec 27 '15 at 17:49
  • 3
    You are right however in common language there could be two kinds of newer :-) One is absolute "being made more recently". The other is relative "being less used" . If these two kinds apply then you could use "este es mas nuevo" or "este está mas nuevo". For age you definitely use "es" but if an object "looks newer" than other you may hear people say "está mas nuevo" – DGaleano Dec 27 '15 at 19:18
  • 1
    +1, good answer. I'll also mention, for the benefit of the asker, that it would be possible to say "Este es más barato" and "Este está más nuevo", but the connotation changes completely. "es más barato" speaks of the quality of the item, i.e. it's of inferior quality. "está mas nuevo" speaks of the condition (not the age) of the item, as in, perhaps it's cleaner, less worn, or generally has a newer appearance, but over time it might become "more old". – Flimzy Jan 4 '16 at 9:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.