Verb to be – part 3 of 4

We started talking about verb to be here. Take a few minutes to read the first and second parts of this lesson in case you haven’t yet.

We talked about how to use verb ‘estar’ to say emotions and conditions, also current activities and locations. Now we are ready to move on to the next verb: ‘ser’.

First of all,

Conjugation

Verb ‘ser’ is, like ‘estar’, irregular and won’t follow the rule for second conjugation verbs. No more chatting then!

Eu sou
Tu és
Ele/Ela/Você é
Nós somos
Eles/Vocês são

You can notice that the radical is the expected ‘s-‘ for 1st persons singular (eu) and plural (nós) and 3rd person plural(eles); however it changes for 2nd and 3rd person singular. Comparing to ‘estar’, which keeps the radical ‘est-‘, it’s possible to trace a parallel with verb ‘estar’:

ESTAR <> SER
Eu estou <> Eu sou
Tu estás <> Tu és
Ele/Ela/Você está <> Ele/Ela/Você é
Nós estamos <> Nós somos
Eles/Vocês estão <> Eles/Vocês são

NOTE: The usual conjugation for the 1st person singular (eu) in the present tense is done by adding ‘-o’ to the radical. Some irregular verbs though will have ‘-ou’ added to their radicals. For example: ‘ir’ (eu vou – I go) and ‘dar’ (eu dou – I give). I’ll make a post for these two later on, for now let’s focus on ‘ser’, ok?

Descriptions

‘Ser’ main use is to describe things, people and places. But unlike ‘estar’ which describes temporary circumstances and conditions, ‘ser’ describes long term circumstances and the nature of what is being described. Confusing? Let’s move on to some examples:

Eu estou feliz. I am happy right now in the current circumstances.
Eu sou feliz. I am happy in a consistent manner, it’s part of who I am: a happy person.

> Learn about verb ‘estar’ here <

I hope the difference is clear.
The structure with ‘ser’ in the present tense is like this:
[subject]>>[ser]>>[adjective or noun]

This adjective or noun can be…

… a personality trait:

  • Eu sou inteligente. I am intelligent.
  • Ela é muito charmosa. She is very charming.
  • Eles são educados. They are polite.
  • Vocês são um pouco estranhos. You (pl.) are a little strange.

… a profession:

  • Ela é médica. She is a doctor.
  • Eles são advogados. They are lawyers.
  • Vocês são professores. You (pl.) are professors.
  • Eu sou empreendedor. I am an entrepreneur.
    • NOTE: there are NO articles between ‘ser’ and the noun when stating someone’s profession.

… a relationship:

  • Nós somos amigos. We are friends.
  • Ela é minha namorada. She is my girlfriend.
  • Vocês são casados ou solteiros? Are you (pl.) married or single?
  • Eles são parentes. They are relatives.

… quantity adjectives:

  • Eles são muitos. They are many.
  • Nós somos poucos. We are few.

… other adjectives:

  • O filme é interessante. The movie is interesting.
  • A menina é simpática. The girl is friendly.
  • Minha família é grande e unida. My family is big and united.
  • A modelo é magra e bonita. The model is thin and beautiful.
  • O carro é novo. The car is new.

How to ask for a description

If you want want to ask someone for a description, you start with the interrogative word ‘como’, followed by the ver ‘ser’ and a noun.

Como é o Brasil?
How is Brazil?

Como é o seu vestido?
How is your dress?

Como é o seu namorado novo?
How is your new boyfriend?

Como são os brasileiros?
How are Brazilian people?

Como são as ruas em Praga?
How are the streets in Prague?

Como é viajar o mundo?
How is it to travel the world?
*In this case, we have a verb in the infinitive instead of a noun, so the goal is to get an impression about the activity expressed by it (to travel).


If what you are asking for is less a quality and more a way of doing something, you will still use the interrogative word ‘como’, but in this case there is no need for ‘ser’. Like this:

[como]>>[subject]>>[verb in the present tense]>>[complement]

Como eu aprendo português? (aprender)
How do I learn Portuguese? (to learn)

Como ele cozinha o arroz? (cozinhar)
How does he cook the rice? (to cook)

> You can check about regular verbs conjugation here <


Origin and nationality

These two ideas in mainly expressed in English with support of the preposition ‘from’. In Portuguese, we have: ‘de’.

The question

De onde você é?
De – preposition of origin (= from)
Onde – interrogative word (=where)
Você – you (= tu)
É – 3rd person singular conjugation of ‘ser’ in the present tense

#tbt If you remember, we saw a similar question here: Onde você está? (Where are you?). By adding the preposition ‘de’ and using verb ‘ser’ instead of ‘estar’, the meaning changes to ‘where are you from?‘.

[de onde]>>[subject]>>[ser]
De onde ele é? Where is he from?
De onde vocês são? Where are you (pl.) from?
De onde este artista é? Where is this artist from?

The answer

Ele é daqui.
He is from here.

Daqui = preposition ‘de’ (from) + aqui (here)

Vocês são dos Estados Unidos.
You (pl.) are from the United States.

Este artista é de Barcelona.
This artist is from Barcelona.

Some prepositions, like ‘de’ and ’em’, when put next to an article, incorporate them. If you are not familiar with articles yet check this previous post. So the forms ‘de’ can assume when combined with articles are:

De + a = da (feminine definite)
De + o = do (masculine definite)
De + uma = duma (feminine indefinite)
De + um = dum (masculine indefinite)

The tricky part is there are no clear rules about which article goes with each city or country or even if there should be one or not. I made a list for you, with the nationalities in the masculine and feminine forms and the country with the ‘de’ + article.

Countries that goes with masculine articles

Brasileiro/Brasileira = do Brasil (Brazil)
Americano/Americana = dos Estados Unidos (United Stated)
Peruano/Peruana = do Peru
Uruguaio/Uruguaia = do Uruguai
Britânico/Britânica = do Reino Unido (United Kingdom)
Canadense = do Canadá (Canada)
Japonês/Japonesa = do Japão (Japan)
Vietnamita = do Vietnam/Vietnã
Cambojano/Cambojana = do Camboja
Equatoriano/Equatoriana = do Equador
Mexicano/Mexicana = do México (Mexico)

If you want to say from which region of a country the person is from, it will be also masculine.
[do]>>[region]>>[country]
Do norte do Brasil.
Do sul do Japão.
Do leste do Peru.
Do oeste do Canadá.

Other directions:
Sudeste
Sudoeste
Nordeste
Noroeste

Countries that goes with feminine article

Espanhol/Espanhola – da Espanha (Spain)
Italiano/Italiana – da Itália (Italy)
Alemão/Alemã – da Alemanha (Germany)
Francês/Francesa – da França (France)
Irlandês/Irlandesa – da Irlanda (Ireland)
Inglês/Inglesa – da Inglaterra (England)
Escocês/Escocesa – da Escócia (Scotland)
Austríaco/Austríaca – da Áustria (Austria)
Suíço/Suíça – da Suíça (Switzerland)
Húngaro/Húngara – da Hungria (Hungary)
Russo/Russa – da Rússia (Russia)
Chinês/Chinesa – da China
Coreano/Coreana – da Coréia (Korea)
Indiano/Indiana – da Índia (India)
Australiano/Australiano – da Austrália (Australia)
Neozelandês/Neozelandesa – da Nova Zelândia (New Zealand)
Sul-africano/Sul-africana – da África do Sul (South Africa)
Polonês/Polonesa – da Polônia (Poland)
Ucraniano/Ucraniana – da Ucrânia (Ukraine)
Argentino/Argentino – da Argentina

NOTE: As you can notice, most european countries are matched with the feminine article, exceptions made for Reino Unido (masculine), Luxemburg (absent) and Portugal (absent).

Countries that are not preceded by an article

Português/Portuguesa – de Portugal
Luxemburguês/Luxemburguesa – de Luxemburgo (Luxemburg)
Costarriquenho/Costarriquenha – de Costa Rica
Israelense – de Israel
Singapuriano – de Singapura
Angolano/Angolana – de Angola
Moçambicano/Moçambicana – de Moçambique (Mozambique)

Hope you learned a lot a come back for more!

See you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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