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Estão is for the locations of things that move around. People and objects.
Ficam for things that can't be moved, like a shower. Or even fot the place where movable things "use to be".
If I ask "onde fica a caneta", it means the place where the pen is usually found. If I ask "onde está a caneta", I probably have already looked in the usual place and didn't find it, so the location became a changeable thing.
Since I can't directly reply to chaered, I'll add yes, figere does contribute to ficar. A linguist friend told me facere and figere contributed to the Portuguese ficar. When facere become compound in Latin the vowels change. Magnificare means to "make magnus (big)". There are a lot of -ficare verbs in Latin. They likely shaped figere into ficar. This is somewhat like how the Spanish hacer has forms derived from facere and agere, both of which can mean "to do", but in different senses.
It's unusual to ask it with "estão", unless they are in boxes, recently bought or being transported.
Some people like to ask it like that, specially when visiting someone's house in order to fix a problem. It's quite a "style" thing. "Ficar" is the best verb for fixed things like that.
In the sister sentence to this one, where we translate from English to Portuguese, DL does not accept "são" and tells us the correct solution is "estão" instead. :(
The discussion is more confusing there as well.
So bathrooms are fixed, but showers are not?
Where do they go?
No wonder we have to ask all the time! =]
Onde estão os chuveiros, hoje?
It does make the learning more difficult...
Please help? :)
The answer with "são" was added. But it doesn't sound good as "ficam".
Since it's a small object, instead of somewhere you go to, it doesn't go very well with "ser". But it's not wrong. Probably the plural has an influence in this good sounding, once the singular sentence would be just great with "é".
You can also see showers as movable (after all, they are objects and you can be installing them, for instance)
Thank you Danmoller.
I would be okay with "ficar" working here and not "ser" (though it did work for banheiro), but "estar" threw me off, especially since we are not privileged to "estar" knowledge yet. :)
However, how many people carry a chuveiro around with them (looking for pipes to attach it to)? :)
Are there multiple banheiros (casas de banho) in a home but just the one chuveiro? :)
But I do now fully understand that it means the showerhead and not really the/a shower (as in the space we step into to take showers, nor the act).
It will be interesting to find out what, "get in the shower" translates to in Portuguese. :)
Oh wait... (in Simple Present even):
Interesting. That is also the Spanish word for shower, but the German is dusche which might also have some influence.
However, "Duche" is the word used in Portugal because it seems the "chuveiro" was a Brazilian invention including an on-demand, electric self-heating system (so hence a made-up name no doubt related to the word for rain in Portuguese which is "Chuva"):
Electric shower heads
As the name implies, an electric heating element is incorporated into such shower heads to instantly heat the water as it flows through. These self-heating shower heads are specialized point-of-use (POU) tankless water heaters, and are widely used in some countries.
Invented in Brazil in the 1930s and used frequently since the 1940s, the electric shower is a home appliance often seen in South American countries due to the higher costs of gas distribution. Earlier models were made of chromed copper or brass, which were expensive, but since 1970, units made of injected plastics are popular due to low prices similar to that of a hair dryer. Electric showers have a simple electric system, working like a coffee maker, but with a larger water flow. A flow switch turns on the device when water flows through it. Once the water is stopped, the device turns off automatically. An ordinary electric shower often has three heat settings: low (2.5 kW), high (5.5 kW) or cold (0 W) to use when a central heater system is available or in hot seasons.
So indeed, maybe this question is asking where to find the "chuveiros" at the hardware, or home improvement store. :)
So just to get this straight...
Ser = "to be" for physical description, unchanging characteristics, most permanent things
Estar = also "to be" for location of moving things, temporary conditions, most non-permanent things
Ficar = "to be (???)" for location of non-moving things, where things are kept
Am I on the right track?