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I have read that both ser and estar can be used with casado to give different connotations to the phrase "to be married." What exactly are the differences, and when would you use each verb?

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3 Answers 3

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"Ser casado" can have two differnt "connotations"

  1. The passive form. You are married BY someone. Check this Groucho Marx quote in Spanish and in English.

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

  1. It can also mean "to be married" in sentences like "soy un hombre casado" (I'm a married man) although in specific that case, I would say it's a pre-made sentence. No one would say (at least in Spain, which is where I am from) "soy casado".
    We always use "estoy casado" ("married" being a condition that can change throughout the time). I believe that "soy un hombre casado" should be seen like "I am a man" (which I can't change easily change) + an adjective.
    Some other examples of this type of usage may include: "Soy un hombre íntegro" or "soy un hombre soltero". Forcing it a bit, you can say "soy un soltero" (although it may start sounding weird) but never "soy soltero". "Soy un soltero" is the same as "soy un hombre soltero" omitting the "hombre" part.

"Estar casado" means clearly "to be married".

This is purely my opinion (no "official" confirmation here).

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    "Soy casado" is often said in Spain in some contexts. It would be a short form of "soy [un hombre] casado" or it might be a shorter, equivalent way of saying "mi estado civil es 'casado'", for instance when asked about your civil status in order to fill a form.
    – DeStrangis
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 14:15
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Both "ser casado" and "estar casado" can be used without explicitly naming the partner.

But only "estar casado" can be used when naming the partner.

Yo soy casado (solteras, no me miren!). Él sí está casado.

Yo estoy casado con María. Yo estuve casado con ella.

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Once in a while, the term "estar soltero" is used to describe a married man, usually with whimsical or humorous intent. It can range from something like the English slang phrase, "he's batching it this evening" to something carrying some innuendo.

This doesn't directly answer your question, but the use of "estar casado" when "ser casado" might have been expected can be sometimes heard as carrying a bit of humor with it.

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    I disagree. 'Estar soltero' and 'estar casado' are the more usual expressions, at least in Spain. There's nothing humorous about them. As someone said on a comment above, the versions with 'ser' are acceptable, but they sound like a shortened form of 'soy [un hombre] casado/soltero' and are much less common. On top of that, they cannot be used when 'casado' is followed by the preposition 'con', as mentioned in another answer. Learners should be advised to always use 'estar' with these adjectives to play safe. Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 15:21
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    Correction accepted. I wasn't thinking of the "estoy casado con" construct. Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 14:24

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