Google translate uses "era" here. Seems like a fundamental description and of something that will always be true. That makes me think "ser" but the rules are so complex I'm open to anything being right here. "La cena era muy buena" has 2,830,000 google results and "La cena estuvo muy buena" has 160,000 results. Close enough to still be ambiguous to me. "Era" is the Imperfect and "estuvo" is the Preterit. Though the distinction is lost on me.
Interesting discussion. I think the imperfect is more likely to be used than the preterite here because it 'sets the scene' about a continuous action in the past, although both can be used. The ser/estar distinction I don't really understand here; ser is more common but both seem to be fine.
Here, the use of estar implies that this particular dinner was very good. Ser would be used if the dinner was typically always good. The past tense implies that the dinner is completed. The imperfect, I think, would be used if the dinner was still ongoing. At least, that's my understanding.
Fui means "i went or i was" like "yo fui al parque- i went to the park" ir " yo fui muy feliz - i was very happy" and estuvo means that something or someone was something " el estuvo en la luna - he was in the moon" in this case estuvo was correct because it says that the dinner was good. Hope it helped.
khaakenajaf- When the action is finished, we have to use preterito perfecto simple ( estuvo). Estaba is used when you say : esta semana estaba enferma., you're still in this week. Last year, this moment is passed, you would say : el año pasado (yo) estuve enferma. Past is used when the accent is finished or the moment passed. - preterito imperfecto ( estaba), is used if the day isn't finished, Sorry but it's hard to explain.
Why can't I say 'nice' instead of 'good'? That's acceptable in English, thus should be for the translation.
I say 'tea' instead of 'dinner' in real life, and 'dinner' instead of 'lunch'. This is really annoying because I keep getting this question wrong because Duolingo doesn't accept 'tea' as an answer. But to complicate things further, there's another definition of tea which is the hot drink, so then people who don't say tea as dinner in real life will get confused. Can we PLEASE have a setting on Duolingo to whether we are American/English?
You can check out this page for the regular and irregular conjugation of verbs in the preterite tense, including that of estar: http://www.fluentu.com/spanish/blog/spanish-preterite-and-imperfect/
"Estaba" is imperfect tense, which describes an ongoing action in the past.
The dinner, i.e. "la cena" was a one-time event that is over, a completed action which you are describing, so you must use a perfect tense, i.e., the preterite tense.
If you regularly have dinners cooked by the same people at the same restaurant or family home repeatedly, perhaps you could use the imperfect & say "Las cenas estaban muy buenas", the dinners were very good, it's a repeated action in the past, and also leaves open the implication that you will continue to go enjoy those ongoing dinners, as opposed to commenting about one specific past dinner you sat down, ate & finished, it's done, which requires perfect tense.
I came here to double-check on the same point, since I am sure that a couple of hours ago DL wanted me to translate ''La cena fue muy buena''. It seems from the comments above that the basic answer is that both are acceptable. Two comments suggest you use ''estar'' when the meal is particularly good. Best person to ask would be a Spanish waiter !