Conjugating the Irregular Spanish Verb Ser (to Be)

Spanish verbs fall into different groups, and each group is conjugated a little differently. If you’re going to master Spanish verbs like ser, you need to be able to identify which group a verb belongs to: regular (follows regular conjugation rules for -ar, -er, and -ir verbs), stem-changing (morphs depending on how you use it in a sentence), spelling-changing (has consonant-spelling changes in some forms to follow pronunciation rules), or reflexive (reflects the action back on the subject of the sentence).

But then there are those verbs that refuse to be lumped into a category: the irregulars. Ser (sehr) (to be) is an irregular -er verb; it doesn’t follow most normal ending patterns, so your best bet is to just memorize its conjugations. Here it is in the present tense:

The Present Tense of Ser
Conjugation Translation
yo soy I am
tú eres You (informal) are
él/ella/ello/uno es He/she/one is
usted es You (formal) are
nosotros somos We are
vosotros sois You all (informal) are
ellos/ellas son They are
ustedes son You all (formal) are

The following examples show you ser in action:

  • La boda es el veintisiete de junio. (The wedding is the 27th of June.)

  • Ellos son mis abuelos. (They are my grandparents.)

The following table shows you ser at work in the preterit tense. Think you’ve seen these conjugations before? You probably have; it just so happens that they’re also the preterit forms of the verb ir (to go). It may be confusing, but look on the bright side: It’s one fewer set of verbs you have to memorize.

The Preterit Tense of Ser
Conjugation Translation
yo fui I was
tú fuiste You (informal) were
él/ella/ello/uno fue He/she/one was
usted fue You (formal) were
nosotros fuimos We were
vosotros fuisteis You all (informal) were
ellos/ellas fueron They were
ustedes fueron You all (formal) were

You use the preterit tense like this:

  • Fuimos al baile anoche. (We went to the dance last night.)

  • Fui a verte en tu casa. (I went to see you at your house.)

Ser is one of only three irregular imperfect verbs. Here’s that conjugation; notice that, like regular verbs, the first-person and third-person singular forms (yo and usted) are the same.

The Imperfect Tense of Ser
Conjugation Translation
yo era I used to be
tú eras You (informal) used to be
él/ella/ello/uno era He/she/one used to be
usted era You (formal) used to be
nosotros éramos We used to be
vosotros erais You all (informal) used to be
ellos/ellas eran They used to be
ustedes eran You all (formal) used to be

Here are some examples of the imperfect tense:

  • Eramos futbolistas. (We used to be soccer players.)

  • Shakespeare era un gran escritor. (Shakespeare was a great writer.)

Good news! Ser is regular in the future tense, so you can apply the regular verb endings here.

The Future Tense of Ser
Conjugation Translation
yo seré I will be
tú serás You (informal) will be
él/ella/ello/uno será He/she/one will be
usted será You (formal) will be
nosotros seremos We will be
vosotros seréis You all (informal) will be
ellos/ellas serán They will be
ustedes serán You all (formal) will be

The following samples put the future tense to work:

  • María sera una gran bailarina. (Maria will be a great dancer.)

  • Ustedes serán bienvenidos. (You will be welcome.)

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