4

I am aware of most of the basic usage of when to use ser vs estar and also that the meaning can change depending on which adjective is being used. However, there are a few instances where I am unsure as in the following:

1)

Este equipo es muy bueno. This team is very good.

I understand the use of es here as it talks about a general truth about the team, However, if i am talking about the teams performance of a particular game(let's assume it's currently ongoing) I'm no longer talking about a general truth but rather at this moment. So how would I say "this team is very good(at this moment)

I can't say,

Este equipo está muy bueno.

because "estar bueno" means to be tasty/attractive

2)

En ese restaurante la sopa es muy sabrosa. The soup is tasty at that restaurant.

Similarly this also speaks of a general truth but what if i was talking about a particular moment? could i say

en general, la comida es sabrosa, pero esta noche no está sabrosa generally the food is tasty but tonight it is not tasty.

3)

Eres hermosa. You are beautiful.(Generally)

estás hermosa hoy. You are beautiful today.( a particular moment of a person's beauty.)

I'm not sure what's a good situation to use a sentence with "estás hermosa". For example is

estás hermosa hoy.

a compliment or is it offensive as in, would someone think i'm saying that they look beautiful right now but is not generally beautiful or can it be both a compliment and offensive depending on how it is used.

4)

¿Cuál es la casa de Juan? Es la casa de la esquina. - Which house is Juan's? It's the house on the corner.

This one is confusing "Es la casa de la esquina." feels like talking about location why was Es used?

5)

Santiago es hombre muerto. Santiago is a dead man. why was es used?

6)

what about comparisons is it ok to say

Ella está más contento que yo

or is it

Ella es más contento que yo

  • Very nice question. Great answer from Gustavson. Just wanted to add, for (4), it means, there are two brick houses on that block/ Juan's house is the one on the corner, not the one in the middle of the block. – aparente001 Jan 10 '18 at 22:04
  • Consider the difference between "it is the house on the corner" and "the house is on the corner". In the first case, on the corner helps the listener identify the house. In the second case a house already identified is asserted to be located on the corner. This difference is conveyed by ser or estar in Spanish. – Walter Mitty Jan 11 '18 at 22:30
  • ¿Alguien se anima a poner un título más descriptivo? – fedorqui Jan 17 '18 at 11:19
  • @ fedorqui, I certainly do not mind if you do. – Simple Jan 19 '18 at 14:24
5

As a general rule, "ser" is used for permanent conditions and "estar", for temporary conditions.

1) You can say: "Este equipo está muy bueno" to mean that, considering its current composition or performance, you find it is playing fine or it is in a position to play well. Please note that "estar" expresses in this, as well as in all other cases where it is used in contrast with "ser", the speaker's impression or perception.

As shown above, "bueno" in "estar bueno" does not only mean "tasty" or "attractive".

2) Your sentences about the food are both fine, with "ser" (permanent) and with "estar" (temporary).

3) "Estás hermosa hoy" is not necessarily offensive. It depends on how much emphasis you lay on "hoy". "Estás hermosa" is in fact a very nice compliment.

4) In "Es la casa de la esquina", "es" is correctly used for identification. Don't confuse it with location: "La casa está en la esquina."

5) Although it is true that we say "estar muerto" (be dead), "ser hombre muerto" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "to be doomed to be killed".

6) As "contento" expresses a temporary state, we need "estar". Be careful with the gender:

  • Ella está más contenta que yo.

Note: Here are a few sentences I found on the Internet with "El equipo está bueno" (there are more than 16,000 results for that collocation). Reference is usually made to how the team is formed:

  • [...] esta vez el equipo está bueno. (Source)

  • El equipo está bueno pero hay que hacer bien los relevos porque siempre queda descompensado en el medio. (Source)

  • El equipo está bueno y obviamente me siento afortunado por formar parte del equipo de Charros. (Source)

  • “El equipo está bueno. Tenemos jugadores jóvenes, veteranos estelares y buenos refuerzos. Creo que vamos a tener un buen equipo para esta temporada”, declaró el pívot de 6’11”. (Source)

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    ´1 But in 1) I'd say that "el eqipo está bueno" is rather weird. Normally, we'd opf for a different construction, such as "está jugando bien" ("is playing well"). – leonbloy Jan 10 '18 at 2:42
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    @FGSUZ You mean to say you never say things like "la película está buena" or "la clase está buena" in Spain? – Gustavson Jan 10 '18 at 11:46
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    To add to an excellent answer I completely agree that saying "Estas hermosa" is a nice compliment and it is best to leave out the use of "hoy" but not because of the grammar ;-). Also on (5) I'd like to add that the same expression exists in English and you will hear it in many movies "you are a dead man" meaning that you're about to die and not that you're already dead. – DGaleano Jan 10 '18 at 13:18
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    @DGaleano This would work nicely: Hoy estás más hermosa que nunca. – Gustavson Jan 10 '18 at 14:49
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    @DGaleano We are from different LA countries and we understand the same thing. The OP should know that, even if the collocation is not used in Spain, its use is quite extended and worth taking into account. – Gustavson Jan 10 '18 at 19:29
1

Well there are too many questions in one. I'll try to answer but this is going to be long.

1) You're absolutely right here. However, as others say, "está bueno" is correct in some places. In Spain, however, we'd rather say "está bien". I mean, we use "ser bueno" and "estar bien". The combination of both sounds bad to us, but check that other Spanish speaking countries work differently.

2) You're also right here. You can perfectly say

"En este restaurante la sopa es muy buena, pero hoy no está tan buena".

You could also say

"la sopa suele estar buena, pero hoy no lo está". Or something similar.

3) Good point.

The sentence

Estás hermosa hoy

is actually a usual compliment. It is understood as a compliment because, altough you are right that you can understand "now you are wonderful but that's not general", people rather understand "you are usually good/very good, but this time it is even more".

If someone understood the first proposal, it would be funny. In fact I think it's a typical "gag", when everything the man says is intentionally seen that way in order to make him think he's talking fail by fail. So unless the woman wants you to screw it up, it's always a compliment.

As the other answer points out, it always depend on the intonation and the emphasis, as always.

4) This is a nice question. I udnerstand your confusion. When you say "estar is for location", it doesn't mean that "you use estar whenever there is a location in the sentence". I'll try to make it clearer.

In general, you use SER for things that DEFINE you (the word "essence" has the same root). On the other hand, "estar" is used for "states". Estar↔states. Thigns that describe your state/how you are right now, but is not part of your essence. And then also for locations, but let's go by parts.

When you say la casa de Juan es la de la esquina, you can say la casa de juan es esa. (Juan's house is that one). You're matching the concept with the real object). You could say "La casa de Juan es amarilla", and it is the same, you're describing its essence. The only change is that you're not talking about the color atribute but is "coordinates in the spatial world".

It would be very different if you said.

La casa de Juan está ahí.

or

La casa de Juan está lejos.

In sum, you use "estar" with a place. Está+where. But you use ser when you want to match two Nouns, two concepts Juan's house ↔ That one.

As the other answer says, it is identification vs. adding information about where it is.

5) It is an idiom. You never say *él es muerto but él está muerto. The phrase "ser hombre muerto" is not separable.

6) This word is always problematic. Both "contento" and "feliz" are translated as "Happy", but "contento" is neccesarily a (temporary) feeling, while "feliz" can be both a feeling or a way of life.

So you just can't "ser contento". Your sentence would be

Ella está más contenta que yo.

Check that the adjective must be feminine, in agreement with the subject.

However, with the word "feliz" you have two options:

Ella está más feliz que yo = Ella está más contenta que yo.

It is asolutely equivalent, it means she feels happier right now, or these days, or whatever, but ut is a state.

Ella es más feliz que yo

Means a different thing. You're using ser, and that means you're defining her. That means "She has a happier life than mine", or "She is a happier person than me" (that's how she is, as a person, her attitude...)

So I hope this is clearer for you now.

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In general, I think it is a question of situational context, some, if not almost all, of your phrases could not work on certain situations (contexts) but do it in some others....

A piece of advice: whenever you tray to understand the meaning at a syntactic level, try first paraphrasing the sentence, for instance the sentence you give:

¿Cuál es la casa de Juan? Es la casa de la esquina.

the answer could be paraphrased (extended if you want) this way:

La casa de Juan es la casa de la esquina.

So this way you can see that there was an elided subject at the answer, and from there realize that es in this case is working as a copulative verb.

I hope this clarifies a little more the general issue....

  • Yeah, we spanish talking people, use ellipsis like crazy. :) – Billeeb Jan 17 '18 at 10:02

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