¡Ser, o no ser, es la cuestión! As this famous line shows, “to be” might be the most important verb out there, which is why it’s the first verb we’ll cover.
The phrase “to be” is in the infinitive, the basic or uninflected form of a verb. In English the infinitive is a phrase that includes “to”: “to speak,” “to write,” “to live,” “to be.” A Spanish infinitive is only one word, and it ends in -ar, or -er, or -ir.
When you use verbs in both languages, you will use the form that matches the subject. This is called conjugating a verb. In English, many of our verb conjugations do not change when different subjects are used. For example, “to write”: “I write, you write, they write, we write.” However: “she writes.” In Spanish, the conjugation is more elaborate, with six different verb endings to choose from depending on who is doing the action.
The Spanish ser, like the English “to be,” is irregular. This means that the conjugation doesn’t follow the typical pattern. “I am, you are, he is; soy, eres, es“. With irregular verbs, you just have to memorize all the forms. We’ll work on that in this section.
In order to understand verb conjugation in Spanish, you’ll also have to learn the subject pronouns. The subject of a sentence is the person, place, or thing performing the action of the sentence. Subject pronouns are words that can be used as the subject of a sentence rather than repeating the noun or name (Click here for an explanation of pronouns in English).
In the following section, we’ll work on subject pronouns and the verb ser.