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Lesson 2: Describing yourself and others

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The verb 'ser' (to be)

When you ask someone, where he or she is from, you have to use the verb 'ser', which means 'to be'. In English you can do something similar: e.g. "I'm from the United States". 'ser' is a very irregular verb that changes its endings and stem depending on the person that it is used with. In English, for example, we have to add an '-s', when we build a verb-form in the third person singular (he, she or it walks). In Spanish, all persons (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) have different verb endings, which usually follow simple rules. In case of 'ser' though these endings do not follow any rules and since 'ser' is very important verb, we have to memorize all its forms.

1styo soy
(I am)
nosotros somos
(we are)
2ndtú eres
(you are)
vosotros sois
(you are)
3rdél/ella es
(he/she is)
ellos/ellas son
(they are)

Since all verbs in Spanish have a unique ending, the pronouns are often omitted.
Soy de España.I'm from Spain.
Somos de Dublin.We are from Dublin.

In the table above, the forms for the following two pronouns are missing: 'usted' and 'ustedes'. These pronouns are used for the formal address, as we already explained partly in lesson 1 ('usted', when you talk to just one person; 'ustedes', when you address more than one person). The verb forms for 'usted' and 'ustedes' are identical with those of the third person (singular and plural):
Usted es de Perú?You (formal) are from Peru?
Ustedes son de Argentina.You (formal, plural) are from Argentina.

To ask about someone or several people, you can use the following expressions in Spanish:
¿Quién es?Who is that?
¿Quiénes son?Who are they?

To ask someone, whether someone comes from a certain country, use the following questions:
¿Teresa, eres de Bolivia?Teresa, are you from Bolivia?
¿Usted es de Puerto Rico?Are you (formal) from Puerto Rico?

If you have no clue, where someone is from, you can also ask more generally:
¿De dónde eres?Where are you from?
¿De dónde es Sebastián?Where is Sebastian from?

At last, to negate a statement, simply put a 'no' in front of the verb, you are using in that sentence:
¿No es de Santiago, usted?You (formal) are not from Santiago?
No soy de Paraguay.I'm not from Paraguay.

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