I'm currently learning about the ser and estar verbs of the Spanish language and encountered this problem, whose answer confused me; the problems asked me for the Spanish translation of the following sentence:

Are you travelers?

The answer of it was:

¿Sois vosotras viajeras?

And it confused me since being travelers is non-permanent, and I thought it should rather be estar than ser. Why is ser, which is used for permanent things, used instead of estar here?


Ser is not defined for use with permanent things, and estar is not defined for use with non-permanent things. (I really wish Spanish teachers would stop teaching that myth).

Estar is used for states, which may or may not be permanent (él está muerto is fairly permanent, but is contrasted with él está vivo) but ser is used for essential attributes, which likewise may or may not be permanent (él es joven). Ser is also used with nouns as the object, which estar rejects (estar, on the other hand, allows adverbs as the manner of being: estar bien that ser rejects).

In your example, the predicate nominative is travelers, which is a noun, and so by definition to render your English sentence into Spanish, only ser can be used. Note, however, that using estar is perfectly grammatically okay in this example because viajero is also an adjectiv, but would not be a correct translation, as in English it would mean something akin to Y'all are on a trip? or Y'all are traveling? (estar viajero = estar de viaje)

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I'd guess that in your studies, you've encountered

¿Sois vosotras francesas?

¿Sois vosotras artistas?

This follows that same pattern, where ser is like an equals sign in an equation, indicating something existential.

But there is actually a way to use estar to ask a similar question:

¿Estáis viajando por Europa? | Are you traveling through Europe?

I guess you might prefer this, because "traveler" as an existential identification might be a little off-putting. But at this stage in your studies, it's okay as an exercise.

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