One of the most important verbs to know for communication is the verb “to be”. That is the one where you can say:
I am happy. You are nice. He is late. She is pretty. It is large. We are a family. You guys are at the store. They are playing in the park.
In other words- I am, you are, he is, we are, you are, they are. to be is the linking verb we use to talk about many things, ideas and concepts. We use it with helping verbs, and Spanish uses the same concept in many of the same ways we use it in English.
That is basically the conjugation in English for the verb “to be” is :
I am, you are, he is, we are, you are, they are
A conjugation just means that you use different forms of the verb with different subjects. We don’t worry about conjugations too much in English because as you can see above we use the same verb form for most of the different subjects. But in Spanish conjugations are important because they change a lot more for each person than they do in English.
When to Use “Ser”
And then Spanish has an additional distinction for the verb “to be”, and that is that it uses the verb “Ser” when something is permanent or not easily changed such as physical features, occupations, time, and relationships.
When to Use “Estar”
And it uses the verb “Estar” for things that could change such as where something is, locations, how someone is feeling, emotions or conditions such as with the weather.
It’s not super important to get it exactly right, but it does matter somewhat and the more you speak, the easier it will get to use the right forms in the right places. It’s not something to worry too much about when you are first learning, but if you can get it right, you will sound a lot better and more natural. Just like in English we understand what someone means if they say “I is going to the store.” But it sure sounds better when they say, “I am going to the store.”
Practice Practice Practice
Getting good at knowing which words to use for different situations just takes a lot of practice speaking and listening and paying attention. Repetition can get tiring, but it works! Keep your eye on the goal and you will have these down in no time!
Here are some conjugation charts, so you are aware. And the first part of the Kids Speak Spanish course gives you plenty of practice with this! My kids have these down, just from watching the Spanish lesson videos that are part of the course! In fact the videos for learning the Ser verb conjugations are free!