When To Use Ser in Spanish [+38 Examples & Quiz]

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In this Spanish grammar lesson you will learn about when to use ser in Spanish.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • when to use ser in Spanish
  • how ser is used in sentences in Spanish
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use ser in Spanish
  • how you can practice with flashcards on when to use ser
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn Spanish

Please refer to the Spanish A1 Page to get a better overview of Spanish grammar, if you are curious about how this fits in the overall structure of Spanish A1.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use ser in Spanish!

Table of Contents

Introduction to When To Use Ser in Spanish

As you know there are two ways to say “to be” in Spanish:

  1. ser
  2. estar

This means that depending on the situation, you may have to use either one of them to say “to be”.

In this lesson you will learn when to use ser in Spanish.

We are going to use an mnemonic device for this:

  • Description
  • Origin
  • Character
  • Time
  • Occupation
  • Relationships
  • Ownership

Whenever you think of ser, think of doctoro.

Description

You will use ser to describe essential qualities of things or people that are unlikely to change.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe things:

Madrid es la capital de España.

Madrid is the capital of Spain.

Esto es un cuaderno.

This is a notebook.

Estos son zapatos.

These are shoes.

La hierba es verde.

The grass is green.

Canadá es un país.

Canada is a country.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe people:

Son altos.

They are tall.

Ella es baja.

She is short.

Él es pelirrojo.

He is ginger.

As you can see these regular actions are expressed through the present tense.

Origin

You will use ser to describe the origin or nationality of someone.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe the origin/nationality of people :

Yo soy de Italia.

I am from Italy.

Ustedes son de Brasil.

You are from Brazil.

Yo soy estadounidense.

I am American.

Yo soy británico.

I am British.

Please note that you will use “de” after “soy” to say that you are form a certain country/city.

Please read the soy de lesson for a refresher on this topic if you need to.

Character

You will use ser to describe the character/personality of someone.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe the character/personality of people :

Yo soy gracioso.

I am funny.

eres malo.

You are mean.

Ella es digna de confianza.

She is trustworthy.

Nosotros somos educados.

We are polite.

Ellos son muy amables.

They are very kind.

Please note that you are describing the character/personality of someone, but NOT the mood.

The character/personality tends to stay the same, whereas someone’s mood tends to change.

Time

You will use ser to describe time, days, dates, and seasons.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe the time/days/dates/seasons:

Son las 5 en punto.

It is 5 o’clock.

Es martes.

It is Tuesday.

Hoy es 25 de marzo.

Today is the 25th of March.

Es verano.

It is summer.

Occupation

You will use ser to describe the occupation of people.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe the occupation of people:

Yo soy bibliotecario.

I am a librarian.

eres profesor.

You are a teacher.

Ella es dentista.

She is a dentist.

Vosotros sois estudiantes.

You are students.

Ustedes son gerentes.

You are managers.

Relationships

You will use ser to describe your familial and chosen relationships.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe familial relationships:

Él es mi padre.

He is my father.

Ella es mi madre.

She is my mother.

Ellos son mis padres.

They are my parents.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe chosen relationships:

Él es mi novio.

He is my boyfriend.

Ella es mi novia.

She is my girlfriend.

Él es mi esposo.

He is my husband.

Ella es mi esposa.

She is my wife.

Él es mi amigo.

He is my friend.

Ella es mi amiga.

She is my friend.

Ownership

You will use ser to describe ownership over something.

Here you can see how ser is used to describe ownership:

Este es el portátil de Paul.

This is Paul’s laptop.

Ese es mi bolígrafo.

That is my pen.

Este es su anillo.

This is her ring.

Conclusion to When to use Ser in Spanish

You have learned the mnemonic device DOCTORO to remember when to use ser in Spanish.

DOCTORO stands for:

  • Description
  • Origin
  • Character
  • Time
  • Occupation
  • Relationships
  • Ownership

An easy way to think about when to use in ser in Spanish is to remember the following:

Whenever you talk about something permanent, you will use ser.

Example Sentences on When to Ser in Spanish

This section of the lesson on when to use ser in Spanish is about seeing it used in sentences.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use ser in Spanish through examples.

Madrid es la capital de España.

Madrid is the capital of Spain.

Esto es un cuaderno.

This is a notebook.

Estos son zapatos.

These are shoes.

La hierba es verde.

The grass is green.

Canadá es un país.

Canada is a country.

Son altos.

They are tall.

Ella es baja.

She is short.

Él es pelirrojo.

He is ginger.

Yo soy de Italia.

I am from Italy.

Ustedes son de Brasil.

You are from Brazil.

Yo soy estadounidense.

I am American.

Yo soy británico.

I am British.

Yo soy gracioso.

I am funny.

eres malo.

You are mean.

Ella es digna de confianza.

She is trustworthy.

Nosotros somos educados.

We are polite.

Ellos son muy amables.

They are very kind.

Son las 5 en punto.

It is 5 o’clock.

Es martes.

It is Tuesday.

Hoy es 25 de marzo.

Today is the 25th of March.

Es verano.

It is summer.

Yo soy bibliotecario.

I am a librarian.

eres profesor.

You are a teacher.

Ella es dentista.

She is a dentist.

Vosotros sois estudiantes.

You are students.

Ustedes son gerentes.

You are managers.

Él es mi padre.

He is my father.

Ella es mi madre.

She is my mother.

Ellos son mis padres.

They are my parents.

Él es mi novio.

He is my boyfriend.

Ella es mi novia.

She is my girlfriend.

Él es mi esposo.

He is my husband.

Ella es mi esposa.

She is my wife.

Él es mi amigo.

He is my friend.

Ella es mi amiga.

She is my friend.

Este es el portátil de Paul.

This is Paul’s laptop.

Ese es mi bolígrafo.

That is my pen.

Este es su anillo.

This is her ring.

Quiz Yourself on When to use Ser in Spanish

It’s not enough to just read this lesson.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki for free, you can get our Spanish A1 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 3,084 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for Spanish A1.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

I have been learning languages for over 20+ years and I was always frustrated with books, courses, and classes that I had tried.

It never really seemed to work for me.

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So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be a easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

However, I also created courses that are much more comprehensive and in-depth.

These courses are easy to follow, clear, and allow you to become fluent in the most effective and efficient way.

The courses of Language Atlas have:

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You can register for free and try the French A0/A1 and Spanish A0/A1 Courses for free!

This includes over 60 lessons and quizzes, 500 flashcards that adapt to how you learn, and access to the community (including support from me).

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