3

I was doing an exercise in the book, Spanish Grammar in Context when I came upon something rather simple, but something I had never really thought about before — whether or not to use estar or ser when describing the freshness of food. The exact example is below:

_____ muy frescas (referring to las sardinas).

Initially I thought of using están because fish, of any kind, don't stay fresh forever, but then I also thought that the word fresh is describing their essence or quality, so I wrote down son. (The book's answer key tells me the answer should have been están.) So that's when I took a quick look at what real life examples I could find and, truth be told, what few I could find seemed to favor using ser when describing the freshness of food. So, I turned to Google's Ngram and, using pescado as an example, filtered the Google Ngram database as follows:

Though ser is favored, it looks as if they're both used and it also looks as if they both have pretty much the same meaning. I didn't look at every example, but I didn't detect any differences in the ones I did look at. So, is the use of estar/ser optional in this context? Are there any Spanish usage guides that dictate one over the other? If there are, could you please cite them in your answer?


Estaba haciendo un ejercicio en el libro, Gramática Española en Contexto cuando me encontré con algo bastante simple, pero algo en lo que nunca había pensado antes - si debería usar estar o ser al describir la frescura de la comida. El ejemplo exacto está abajo:

_____ muy frescas (refiriéndose a las sardinas).

Inicialmente pensé en usar están porque el pescado, de cualquier tipo, no se mantiene fresco para siempre, pero luego también pensé que la palabra fresh describe su esencia o calidad, así que escribí son. (La clave de respuestas del libro me dice que la respuesta debería haber sido están.) Entonces fue cuando eché un vistazo rápido a los ejemplos de la vida real que pude encontrar y, a decir verdad, los pocos que pude encontrar parecían favorecer el uso de ser al describir la frescura de los alimentos. Así que me dirigí a Ngram de Google y, usando pescado como ejemplo, filtré la base de datos de Google Ngram de la siguiente manera:

[Véanse arriba en la parte inglés.]

Aunque ser es favorecido, parece que ambos se usan y también parece que ambos tienen más o menos el mismo significado. No miré todos los ejemplos, pero no detecté ninguna diferencia en los que sí miré. Entonces, ¿el uso de estar/ser es opcional en este contexto? ¿Hay alguna guía de uso del español que dicte uno sobre el otro? Si las hay, por favor, ¿podría citarlas en su respuesta?

Traducción realizada con la versión gratuita del traductor www.DeepL.com/Translator porque es tarde y estoy cansada, pero le eché un vistazo. Si todavía hay errores, por favor, ¡corrígenos!

3

The problem with "fresco" is that it can mean:

(1) raw

(2) fresh, good to eat

Both "ser fresco" and "estar fresco" are correct to refer to food, but the meaning may differ depending on the meaning of "fresh".

"ser fresco" refers to the condition in which some food is sold or served, as opposed to "estar cocido" (or the less usual "ser cocido"):

  • Este pescado es fresco (raw), pero este otro está / es cocido.

We could also use "estar fresco" to refer to the way in which the food is sold or served, but "ser fresco" is more usual.

"estar fresco" will most likely be used to refer to fish that is not off or has not gone bad, as opposed to "estar pasado / estar feo / estar podrido".

  • Este pescado está fresco (fresh, safe to eat).
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Siempre aprecio una respuesta de ti, @Gustavson. ¡Gracias de nuevo! – Lisa Beck Apr 9 at 23:20
  • 1
    Another case that crossed my mind is "queso fresco". If you say "Este queso ES fresco", you refer to the type of cheese (unripened), while "Este questo ESTÁ fresco" means it is good to eat, not rotten. – Gustavson Apr 10 at 1:27
  • I just thought of something, too. (You can correct me if I'm mistaken.) I kind of see it like this ... if you say el pescado es fresco, you're saying the fish is fresh (as opposed to frozen or canned or something else), but if you say el pescado está fresco you're saying that the fish is safe for consumption (or, as you said above "safe to eat." Where I live, the main categories of fish (beyond species) is whether or not it is fresh or frozen. Perhaps this is true in many other places as well. – Lisa Beck Apr 10 at 9:55
  • Yes, "fresh" would mean "in its natural state" before undergoing any process, be it cooking, freezing or any other method of preservation. – Gustavson Apr 10 at 16:36

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.