In the realm of Spanish study, there are lists and lists of rules that are used for helping the language learner to understand the difference between Ser and Estar. Here are a couple of the rules:
For anything that is permanent, use Ser.
For anything that is temporary, use Estar.
There cannot be a worse rule than these two. Why? Because all they are going to do is confuse the heck out of people. These rules just don’t cover everything. For example, look at these two properly written sentences:
El hombre está muerto. (The man is dead.) Is he dead only temporarily?
My prima es soltera. (My cousin is single.) Will she be permanently single forever and ever?
This rule is taught in our schools. It’s taught on the Internet. It’s in Spanish grammar books that I have on my book shelf while I’m writing this. Now it doesn’t have to mean that we can’t buy these books. There is certainly some very helpful information in them. They just are not telling us the whole story about the usages of Ser and Estar. And that’s where I come in. I want you to know the whole story about Ser and Estar.
DOCTOR and PLACE are just not good enough.
Okay, so here is something you most likely seen and/or heard before:
The uses of Ser and Estar can be memorized using the acronym “DOCTOR” and “PLACE”.
Don’t get me wrong – acronyms can surely be of some help. But the problem that I have with these two lists is that they are incomplete. Here’s what I’m talking about, just in case you haven’t run into this:
And that’s one of the reasons I’m working on the book “Ripping Apart the Spanish Language: Ser & Estar“.