“Ser y estar”, jugando con frases hechas

Posted on 11. Aug, 2011 by in Spanish Vocabulary

I’m sure you have studied the differences between “ser” and “estar” tons of times, but as I see there are some friends asking about them these days both in our blog and the Transparent Spanish page, I think it’s a good idea to review them, now in a particular way: we are going to see how we use these verbs in some “frases hechas” (idioms).

First of all, let’s remember how these two verbs are used:

Ser” is used to express:

the hour, day, and date

place of origin

occupation

nationality

religious or political affiliation

the material something is made of

possession

relationship of one person to another

certain impersonal expressions

where an event is taking place

essential qualities

Estar” is used to express:

geographic or physical location

state or condition

many idiomatic expressions

progressive tenses

In Spanish we have a lot of idiomatic expressions using both verbs:

- Ser la oveja negra de la familia.  To be the black sheep

- Estar de mala leche. To be in a bad mood

- Ser harina de otro costal. To be a horse of a different color

-No ser nada del otro jueves. To be no big deal

- Estar mano sobre mano. To twiddle one’s thumbs

- Ser cerrado de mollera. To be pig-headed.

Do you think you will guess which verb is the correct one in these sentences, and even more difficult, what their meaning is?

- Mi vecino _______ más bueno que el pan.

- No _______ el horno para bollos.

- He trabajado muchísimo hoy, _______ hecha papilla.

- Aunque parezca una mujer fuerte, no _______ de hierro.

- Siempre puedes contar con él, _________ a las duras y a las maduras.

- Todos los días tiene algún problema, ¡ _______ el cuento de nunca acabar!

- ¿En qué estás pensando? ¡_______ en los cerros de Úbeda!

- Su negocio fue a la ruina, ahora _______ con una mano delante y otra atrás.

- Siempre hay que esperarla, ______ más lenta que el caballo del malo.

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About Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!

5 Responses to ““Ser y estar”, jugando con frases hechas”

  1. Nancy Ezzard 12 August 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I hope you will post the answers to your little quiz on ser and estar. Some of those expressions are unfamiliar to me. Thanks!

  2. Henny Houston (Ms) 12 August 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    I am with Nancy and hope too for answers to the quiz/
    thank you’

  3. Magda 12 August 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    I will give you the correct answers next week. Hope you find it interesting!

  4. Magda 17 August 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Here you have the answers!

    - Mi vecino está más bueno que el pan.
    - No está el horno para bollos.
    - He trabajado muchísimo hoy, estoy hecha papilla.
    - Aunque parezca una mujer fuerte, no es de hierro.
    - Siempre puedes contar con él, está a las duras y a las maduras.
    - Todos los días tiene algún problema, ¡es el cuento de nunca acabar!
    - ¿En qué estás pensando? ¡Estás en los cerros de Úbeda!
    - Su negocio fue a la ruina, ahora está con una mano delante y otra atrás.
    - Siempre hay que esperarla, es más lenta que el caballo del malo.

  5. Joan 26 August 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    But — where is the translation. I can
    translate it literally but obviously I need the English equivalent for these modismos


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