Ser: Definition and Present Tense Conjugation

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  • 0:06 Ser
  • 0:27 Verbs
  • 1:51 Conjugating Ser
  • 4:11 5 Reasons to Use Ser
  • 5:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Geary

Danielle teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Doctor of Education with research concentration in Study Abroad and Foreign Language Acquisition.

Ser! It's probably the most used verb in the Spanish language. It's used to identify people and things, origin, possession, and time. Plus, it's fun to conjugate! Learn how 'to be' in this lesson.


Exciting day today! We're going to talk about what is quite possibly the most used verb in the Spanish language: ser! Ser means 'to be' and is used to identify people and things, origin, possession, and time. We'll also discuss verb types and verb conjugations. Vamos! It's time for ser!

Grammar: Verbs

First, let's talk a little bit about grammar and verbs in general. Verbs are action words and are either infinitives or conjugated.

In English, an infinitive verb has the word 'to' in front of it: 'to talk,' 'to be,' 'to live.' In español, an infinitive verb is just one word and has one of three endings: '-ar,' '-er,' or '-ir.' Instead of a 'to' before it, you might think of the -ar, -er, and -ir endings as the 'to' part of the verb. Hablar means 'to talk.' Ser means 'to be.' Vivir means 'to live.'

While infinitive verbs do indeed have a meaning when you look them up in the dictionary, they're sort of dead in the water until they're conjugated. For instance, if you went up to John and said, 'To talk!' 'To be!' 'To live!' he'd just look at you like you were crazy. Conjugations are verbs that have been changed to match the subject that is performing the action of the verb. Once you give the verb a subject and conjugation and maybe add some context… voila! The verb comes to life and communication begins: 'John, I live here.' Now there's communication.

Conjugating 'To Be' and 'Ser'

Okay, on to 'ser. First, in case you're not a grammar guru, let's break down the verb 'to be' into its English conjugations according to subject pronoun:

I am we are
You are
He/she/it is they are

Note that several of the five conjugations are the same. 'Am, Are, Is, Are, Are.'

Now, let's conjugate ser in Spanish, using corresponding pronouns. You should know that ser is an irregular verb in Spanish, meaning the conjugations do not follow basic grammar rules:

Yo soy nosotros/nosotras somos
Él/ella/usted es ellos/ellas/ustedes son

Note that all five conjugations are different from one another. 'Soy, Eres, Es, Somos, Son.'

So the five conjugations of ser are:

soy I am somos we are
eres you are
es he/she/it is, you (formal) are son they are/you guys are

Since all five conjugations are different, we don't have to include the pronoun unless we want to or need to for clarification or emphasis. Think of it this way: Spanish conjugated verbs are two words in one. For this reason, Hispanics rarely use subject pronouns with their verbs. 'Yo soy' means 'I am.' 'Soy' means 'I am.' Soy alone is shorter, so soy is what people say.

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