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At work today, we did an ice breaker with a picture of 9 cats which we had to choose from to express how we were feeling. There was one cat w/ a sombrero which prompted me to answer in Spanish that I was that cat today. I struggled to decide whether to use "soy" or "estoy" and opted for the latter since I was expressing my current state today. However, "soy" feels much better and I think that could be the preferred way to express that sentiment. That is, at least, if I'm going to try to express it with the verbs of "being".

Perhaps it would be better expressed, and would be by a native speaker, in a way that'd translate more literally to "I feel like ..." (ie. "Me siento como ..." or "Estoy como ..."). Certainly, if you were pretending to "be" someone else you might use "soy" as in the assertion "I'm Batman" but in the scenario above, I'm simply trying to express how I feel and comparing myself to one of the cats. Perhaps it's very "English language" to even express that sentiment as "I am" such a thing in the first place.

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    You could never say estoy un gato. You could say estoy como un gato.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 23:40
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    Agreed. What you are saying in english amounts to figuratively taking on the identity of that cat, at least for today. Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 11:23

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You can only say 'soy un gato', never 'estoy un gato' (you could say 'estoy como un gato', as mentioned in a comment, but that's a different use). The main rules for 'ser' v. 'estar' are:

  1. With nouns, always use 'ser'. 'Es (un) médico', 'es una niña', 'soy un gato', 'soy un aprendiz'.

  2. With locations, always use 'estar en'. 'Estoy en casa', 'León está en España', 'el sol está en el centro del Sistema Solar'.

  3. With adjectives, 'ser' is generally used with states that are regarded as permanent, as in 'el callejón es oscuro' and 'estar' with temporary states, as in 'la calle está oscura a las ocho de la tarde'. Sometimes, usage has established a pattern that simply has to be learned. For example, we always say 'estar vivo' and 'estar muerto'.

The third point is the one confusing you. It only applies to adjectives, not to nouns like 'un gato'. Note that some Spanish words like 'loco' can be both a noun and an adjective, but if there is an article, then it is being used as a noun and you have to use 'ser': 'él está loco' ('he is crazy') v. 'él es un loco' ('he is a madman'). With some of these words that can be both noun and adjective, the use of 'ser' can feel more like a noun than the purely adjectival use with 'estar'; compare: 'él está soltero' ('he is single'), 'ella está ciega' ('she is blind') v. 'él es soltero' ('he is a single man/bachelor'), 'ella es ciega' ('she is a blind woman').

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I wonder whether perhaps you are puzzled by the often repeated advice that ser is for permanent states and estar for temporary states. Although this is a good starting point it does not work universally. For instance you would say soy estudiante although being a student is, hopefully, a temporary state. Your case is similar as you are saying that figuratively you are a cat. Compare the events of 7 January 2015 in Paris where the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were the target of an armed attack. Protestors carried banners saying I am Charlie in various languages and if you put "soy charlie" into your favourite search engine you will find images of Spanish language protestors holding their banners. Of course they were not saying they were literally all called Charlie.

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    temporary has to be taken with a grain of salt. The issue is with things like "es simpático" y "está simpático hoy".
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 20:05
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Ser -> permanent(ish) state.

Estar -> temporary(ish) or additional state.

"soy ese gato", or "soy un gato" would mean you are that cat, even if just for one day but you fully are.

Because you cannot be yourself and be a cat at the same time, you wouldn't say "Estoy ese gato", but your mood can be like theirs, "Estoy como ese gato" which you correctly point out.

You can however be yourself and be sad at the same time "Estoy triste" (or happy, or hungry, etc.)

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    [point out] correction
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 20:03
  • @Lambie thank you
    – OscarRyz
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 21:58

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