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Use of ser or estar

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Use of ser or estar


At the moment, the availabilty of these homes is very limited is translated as:

Por el momento, la disponibilidad de estas viviendas es muy reducida

Why isn't estar used here because at the moment surely implies that the situation is a temporary state?

Gracias

Asked 1 month ago
SilviaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola David

This is an excellent question! In your example, "Por el momento, la disponibilidad de estas viviendas es muy reducida", the verb "ser" is used to describe the availability of the homes. The key here is understanding that "ser" is used not only for permanent states but also for qualities or conditions that, while they may change over time, are considered characteristics of the subject in the context they are described. In this sentence, the limited availability of the homes is viewed as a characteristic of the current market or situation.

"Estar" is used for states or conditions that are often seen as temporary or changeable, and it's also used to describe locations. You might expect "estar" to be used in your sentence because the situation sounds temporary (at the moment). However, Spanish speakers often use "ser" to describe situations that, although temporary, are seen as defining characteristics of the subject in a specific context.

Thus, "ser" is chosen over "estar" here not because the situation won't change, but because the limited availability is perceived as a defining condition of the homes' status at this moment. It's a subtle distinction and often depends on the speaker's perception of the situation.

It's also worth noting that there are some fixed phrases and contexts where "ser" and "estar" are traditionally used in ways that might seem contrary to the basic rules. Gaining a feel for these nuances often comes with experience and exposure to the language in a variety of contexts.

¡Espero que esto aclare tus dudas!

Feliz domingo

Silvia

 
 
 
 
SilviaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

 

Hola Marcos

Your reflections on the nuances between "ser" and "estar" and how they relate to time frames and control over situations are insightful and largely on point.

The choice between these two verbs does often hinge on more than just the temporary vs. permanent dichotomy, and your examples illustrate that complexity well.

Regarding time frames, while it's true that "ser" can be used to describe conditions that are characteristic over what might be considered medium or long term, it's not exclusively about the likelihood of change over time. Rather, it's about the nature of the condition in relation to the subject at a given moment or context. In the case of housing availability, "ser" is used because the availability is seen as a characteristic of the housing market at that moment, regardless of how long this condition might last. It's about describing the state of the market in a way that reflects its current, albeit potentially temporary, characteristic.

As for control over the situation, this is an interesting angle. The distinction isn't so much about our ability to control the situation, but how intrinsic or inherent the condition is perceived to be to the subject. Your car being broken (descompuesto) and remaining in that state is a condition affecting the car directly and is seen as a temporary state of being, hence "está". On the other hand, the availability of homes is an external condition that reflects broader market dynamics and is seen as a characteristic of the housing situation at that moment.

Your approach of looking at variables such as time frames and control is a good strategy for understanding the nuances of "ser" and "estar". The subtleties of their use are indeed shaped by a variety of factors, including how speakers perceive and contextualize the conditions they are describing. This aspect of language learning can be particularly challenging but also rewarding, as it offers deep insights into the mindset and cultural perspectives of native speakers.

Saludos

Silvia

MarcosC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Could this have something to do with short, medium, and long term time frames? The availability of homes is not likely to change from day to day and is more likely to change over the medium term (a few months) and the long term (a few years). So we use ser? 

Could it also have something to do with the amount of control we have over the situation? For example, if my car needs repair, I would say “Está descompuesto”, even if it has been sitting in blocks on the driveway for two years. Here this longer time frame doesn’t trigger “ser” like it does above. So perhaps “ser” is used above because we have no control over the availability of housing.

 Overall I’ve found that identifying different variables like this helps to determine usage.

Sylvia and Inma, I’d be interested in your feedback on this.  Thanks.

Use of ser or estar


At the moment, the availabilty of these homes is very limited is translated as:

Por el momento, la disponibilidad de estas viviendas es muy reducida

Why isn't estar used here because at the moment surely implies that the situation is a temporary state?

Gracias

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