Reporting What Happened
Hypothesis 1: Estar describes a noun’s current state of being and its temporary and changeable qualities. This verb focuses on the present and how the subject feels and/or appears today. Also, it is used with location and mental/physical states.
Ser describes the essence of a sentence’s subjects and the subjects inherent traits or permanent qualities.An example that we found that can be used to support this hypothesis is the situation we examined during fieldwork that had to do with location and origin. If I were currently in California, you would say: Yo estoy en California. Estar is used in this case because it describes a noun’s current state of being. If I were to say that I am from California, you would say: Yo soy de California.
In this case, ser is used to describe the permanent traits of the sentence’s subject.An example that we found that can be used against this hypothesis is the situation that had to do with soft and hard bread. While conducting fieldwork we found that if a person were to describe the loaf of bread they bought last week, a reasonable statement in this context would be the bread was soft, but now it’s hard. In Spanish, this translates to El pan fue (ser) suave, pero ahora estï¿½ duro. This example seems backwards to our group because ser is used with more permanent characteristics and being soft, in the context of bread, isn’t remotely permanent.
Anybody with knowledge of bread knows it goes stale eventually. Also, the use of estar in this scenario is different from the hypothesis because the hypothesis states that estar is used with temporary qualities. This seems unreasonable because how does hard bread change. We couldn’t imagine a state the bread could change to. Based on this example, the group’s proposed hypothesis doesn’t match what we learned in the fieldwork.
Hypothesis 2: Ser is used when “x” is true in all contexts. Estar is used “elsewhere” (or in all other contexts).Our group thinks this hypothesis is very vague and difficult to understand. We came to a conclusion that this hypothesis is not a strong hypothesis because it is very hard to test and in class we learned that a well-written hypothesis is one that is very testable. We still tried to test this hypothesis with certain situations that we examined during fieldwork.A shirt is made out of cotton and when you tell someone that it is cotton, you would say:Es de algodï¿½n.
(Ser)We concluded that this is true in all situations because the materials of a article of clothing isn’t going to change. Another situation we examined was when a student is taking an easy class, but for one day the lecture was very difficult. If you were to say the class was difficult, you would say:La clase estuvo difï¿½cil. (Estar)Estar would be used because the class is not difficult in all situations.The last situation we examined with this hypothesis was if a person were generally a healthy person but was sick for a day.
If you were to say the person was sick, you would say:La persona estuvo enferma.Once again, estar would be used in this situation because for the person in our specific scenario, being sick is not an everyday event.Hypothesis 3: Estar is used with location (if true in limited situations). It is also progressive (before -ando and -iendo adjectives). Ser, if true in all situations, is used with nouns and adjectives.An example against this hypothesis would be used when you would say that the party is in the club:La fiesta es en el club.
(Ser)This disproves the hypothesis because the hypothesis states that estar is used with locations and La fiesta es en el club describes a location.An example that supports this hypothesis is the situation when a person is usually cool but for some reason being a jerk. If you were to say the person is a jerk, you would say:La person estï¿½ un imbï¿½cil.Estar is used in this situation because it shows limited contexts. The adjective describing the noun, un imbï¿½cil, isn’t a permanent description of the noun and is not true in all situations.GeneralizationsOur group generalizations about the ser/estar contrast are:SER: is used to describe essential inherent characteristics or qualities: possession,relationship, profession, nationality, origin, status, religion, expressions of time and dates, events taking place, impersonal expressions, noun and adjective complement(describing the subject).
ESTAR: is used to express location (permanent and temporary), transitory aspects and characteristics that are not inherent properties of a noun, such as how something/someone looks, feels or tastes at a given moment.Inherent qualities are descriptive traits of nouns that in some cases may never change (e.g.. I am American – Soy Americana) and in the forms of inherent qualities the change is slow and gradual (e.g.
I am young – Soy joven.) Transitory characteristics are descriptions that apply to the current state of the subject. An example of this is Jim estï¿½ cansado (Estar). This implies that right this moment Jim is tired and using es (Ser) would change the meaning of the sentence to Jim is a tired person (always). Many of the Ser v. Estar assumptions are controlled by the way the world actually works.
Some examples that we collected from the section and from the lecture that support our group’s hypothesis are:EX1: Two people are talking by phone. One asks the other, “Where are you now?” and the other person answers, “I am in California”. In this scenario you use the verb estar because we said that this kind of verb expresses characteristics that are not inherent properties of a noun. If something is temporary, happening right at that moment, we hypothesized we would use estar. However, if someone ask you, “Where are you from”, you will use soy (ser) because in our hypotheses we say that ser is used to describe essential inherent characteristics or qualities such as origin. Ser describes permanent qualities.
EX2: Someone that is in a relationship says: “I am in love”. In this scenario the verb estar is used. You will say, “Estoy enamorado”. Love is a transitory aspect describing how someone feels at a given moment so when expressing it we decided one would use Estar because it describes what is happening at a certain time rather than what is happening in general.EX3: You have a friend who used to be Catholic; you knew he was catholic because two years ago he told you that.
However, you see your friend after 1 year. Now he tells you “I am Buddhist”. You will used the verb soy (ser) = “Ahora soy budista”. This supports our hypothesis because it stated that Ser is used to describe religion and religious affiliations.EX4: Jose estï¿½ aburrido =Joseph is bored (at the moment) vs.
Jose es aburrido=Joseph is boring (all the time). This supports our description of the differences between the use and interpretation of the two verbs of ‘to be.’ Since estar describes temporary traits, it explains why estï¿½ aburrido translates to is bored (at the moment). This example also supports our explanation of the differences between transitory and inherent characteristics.EX5: Your homely looking brother is getting ready for prom and when you see him all fixed up you utter “ï¿½l esta guapo” meaning right now, right at the moment.
ï¿½l es guapo means that the subject is always handsome. It describes a permanent quality of his being. An acceptable scenario for the second example using ser in the sentence is that there is a guy in your semantics class who you believe is good looking. This is an appropriate description of how the permanent quality can be used. Both translate to “He is handsome”.
Again, this supports our hypothesis and our explanation of transitory and inherent characteristics.Predictions(i) Based on our hypothesis, in scenario one we would complete the sentence with the verb estï¿½n. As stated in our hypothesis we proposed for estar, estar is used to express transitory characteristics that are not inherent properties of a noun. Using the context of the scenario, we know that the eyes are red only temporarily because the person just cried their eyes out at a very sad event. The person’s eyes are not permanently red, unlike the eyes described in scenario two.
In scenario two, we would use son to complete the sentence because our group predicted that we would use the verb ser to describe inherent characteristics or qualities of a noun. The alien’s eyes are always red and are permanent characteristic that describes the alien.(ii)Scenario 3: Your roommate is very studious and never takes a break from her work to just relax and hang out. After finals, she finally has a break from her schoolwork to take it easy. After a few drinks, Juana begins to really loosen up and act silly for once, a huge change from her usual self.
Therefore, according to our group’s hypothesis of the definition of estar, it is reasonable to say: