Master All the Forms of Ser in Spanish: Your Ultimate Grammar Guide
Who am I? Who are you? These two most basic questions of identity serve as our introduction to the many forms of ser in Spanish.
Ser is one of the two prominent “to be” verbs in Spanish; the other is estar. Ser is an irregular -er verb, so it doesn’t follow regular verb ending patterns. Being able to use all the forms of ser in Spanish will make you a more fluent speaker.
Keep reading this blog post for a comprehensive, practical grammar guide to using ser in all its forms!
(For a more technical lesson on this verb’s conjugation, see Ser Conjugation: Free Spanish Lesson, Exercises, and PDF.)
When to Use the Forms of Ser in Spanish
Let’s briefly review the most common usages of the verb ser. You’ll use it primarily in situations to express physical characteristics, times and dates, professional and relationships, and permanent descriptions (including origin, nature, identity, and possession).
1. Physical Characteristics
Ella es baja y delgada.
She is short and thin.
La casa es azul.
The house is blue.
Mi perro era grande y blanco.
My dog was big and white.
2. Times and Dates
Son las once de la noche.
It is 11:00 p.m.
Ayer fue martes.
Yesterday was Tuesday.
Mañana es el primero de diciembre.
Tomorrow is December 1.
3. Professions and Relationships
I am a writer.
Elena es mi amiga.
Elena is my friend.
Juan fue mi esposo.
Juan was my husband.
Mi trabajo es difícil.
My work is difficult.
4. Permanent Descriptions
Tú eres de este pueblo.
You are from this village.
La casa es mía.
The house is mine.
México es un país al sur de los Estados Unidos.
Mexico is a country south of the United States.
Now it’s time to dive into our complete guide to ser! The following sections are organized into present, past, future, subjunctive, commands, conditional, and progressive.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Present Tense
The most common set of verbs in Spanish is the present indicative tense. Use these verbs to discuss things happening now.
Who am I?
Who are you?
Yo soy ____.
I am _____.
What is it?
¡Es una niña!
It’s a girl!
Ellos son Latinos.
They are Latin American.
Ustedes son inteligentes.
You all are intelligent.
Nosotros somos mujeres fuertes.
We are strong women.
La alumna es colombiana.
The student is Colombian.
Nosotros somos los primeros en llegar.
We are the first to arrive.
Los zapatos son míos.
The shoes are mine.
The past participle of ser is sido.
Ha sido maravilloso.
It has been wonderful.
Yo he sido tranquilo toda mi vida.
I have been calm all my life.
Ella ha sido maestra de yoga por veinte años.
She has been a yoga teacher for twenty years.
Hemos sido amigos desde la niñez.
We have been friends since childhood.
Estos procedimientos han sido utilizados en años anteriores.
These procedures have been used in previous years.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Past Tense
Spanish has two main past tense forms: preterite and imperfect. The preterite tells you precisely when something happened in the past, while the imperfect tells you in general terms when an action took place with no definite ending.
Let’s take a look at ser in the preterite tense. If these conjugations look familiar, it’s because they’re also the preterite forms of the verb ir (to go).
Fue una noche oscura.
It was a dark night.
Fueron escondidos detrás de los árboles.
They were hidden behind the trees.
Nosotros fuimos meseros de este restaurante.
We were waiters at this restaurant.
Fuimos los mejores.
We were the best.
No fui yo, esta señora está confundida.
It wasn’t me; this lady is confused.
¿No fui lo suficientemente claro?
Was I not clear enough?
Yo mismo lo fui.
I used to be one myself.
Las mujeres fueron las que corrieron.
The women were the ones who ran.
Ella y su madre fueron encarceladas.
She and her mother were incarcerated.
Ser is one of just three irregular imperfect verbs. Note that the first-person and third-person singular forms (yo and usted) are the same (era).
Cuando era niño, comía mucha papaya fresca.
When I was a little boy, I used to eat lots of fresh papaya.
La directora de la escuela era estricta.
The school’s principal was strict.
La librera era de mi abuela.
The bookshelf was my grandmother’s.
Dickens era un gran escritor.
Dickens was a great writer.
Tú eras la secretaria de la oficina.
You used to be the secretary in the office.
We used to be soccer players.
¿Te acuerdas cuando eramos chicos?
Do you remember when we were children?
Eran las cinco.
It was five o’clock.
Mis padres se casaron cuando eran muy jóvenes.
My parents got married when they were very young.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Future Tense
We use the future tense to discuss plans, intentions, predictions, and assumptions. Good news! Ser is regular in the future tense, so you can apply the regular verb endings here. Alternatively, use the present tense of the verb ir + ser to express the phrase “going to be” or “will be.”
Que será será.
Whatever will be, will be.
Linda será una gran bailarina.
Linda will be a great dancer.
Ustedes serán bienvenidos.
You all will be welcome.
Tú serás la primera.
You will be the first.
Voy a ser enfermera.
I am going to be a nurse.
Vas a ser exitosa.
You’re going to be successful.
Vamos a ser esposos.
We are going to be married.
Van a ser actores.
You all will be actors.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Conditional
Conditional sentences are sentences that express one thing based on something else.
Mejor sería comprar verduras frescas.
It would be better to buy fresh greens.
Si no estuviera tan ocupada, sería más felíz.
If she weren’t so busy, she would be happier.
Pensé que hoy sería diferente.
I thought that today would be different.
¿Qué crees que sería justo?
What do you think is fair?
¿Qué días de la semana serían las clases?
What days of the week would the course be?
¿Cuáles serían las consecuencias?
What would the consequences be?
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Subjunctive
We use the Spanish present subjunctive to talk about situations of doubt, desire, emotion, necessity, or uncertainty.
Lo que sea.
Lo hago tantas veces como sea posible.
I do it as often as possible.
Por muy tarde que sea, pasaremos a verte.
However late it may be, we will come by to see you.
Cuando sea grande quiero ser arqueólogo.
When I grow up I want to be an archeologist.
¿No te alegras de que tus primas sean tan felices?
Aren’t you glad that Elisa and David are so happy?
Es necesario que sean socios.
They need to become partners.
¿Quiere que sea testigo?
Do you want me to be a witness?
No importa que sea de otro país.
It doesn’t matter if it’s from another county.
We use the past subjunctive (also known as the imperfect subjunctive) to talk about hypotheses, wishes, or uncertainty in the past.
Si yo fuera tú no lo haría.
If I were you, I wouldn’t do it.
Yo esperaba que ella fuera a la tienda conmigo.
I was hoping that she would go to the store with me.
Aunque fuera clara, no le gustaba.
Although it was clear, he didn’t like it.
Ellos esperaban que sus amigos fueran a la playa con ellos.
They were hoping that their friends would go to the beach with them.
Past Perfect Subjunctive
The past perfect subjunctive is common when discussing past hypotheticals, conditionals, and past actions preceding other past actions.
Hubiera sido un error trágico.
That would have been a tragic mistake.
Hace seis meses hubiera sido totalmente inconcebible.
Six months ago, this would have been absolutely unthinkable.
Creo que hubiera sido algo que nadie habría aceptado.
I think that would have been unacceptable to everyone.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Commands
Another word for Spanish commands is “imperatives,” and we use them to give direct orders by addressing someone (or a group).
No seas exagerado, no pasó de esa manera.
Don’t exaggerate, it didn’t happen that way.
Sea amable con los huéspedes. (formal/usted)
Sé amable con los huéspedes. (informal/tú)
Be nice to the guests!
Seamos razonables, pidamos sólo lo necesario.
Let’s be reasonable, let’s ask only for what we need.
No seamos hipócritas.
Let us not fool ourselves.
Forms of Ser in Spanish: Progressive
Lastly, let’s take a glance at one of the less commonly used forms of ser in Spanish: the progressive or continuous form. The gerund form of ser is siendo.
Estamos siendo vigilados por los vecinos.
We are being watched by the neighbors.
Ellos están siendo echado de su propio terreno.
They are being kicked off their own land.
Aún sigue siendo así.
That is still the case.
Ya iba siendo hora.
Not a day too soon.
¡Vas a Ser Bilingue!
You’re going to be bilingual!
Now that you’re learning the plethora of ways to use ser in all its forms, are you ready to take the next step? Try a free trial class with one of our certified Spanish teachers to practice using ser—plus learn more helpful verbs and vocabulary—while having a real-life conversation with a native speaker.
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