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https://www.duolingo.com/DavidEason1

Here is where you eat.

I translated this as "Aquí está donde comes." Duo gives "Aquí es donde tú comes." I don't understand this. I thought estar was always used with location. I checked three different translation engines and all three used ser. I would appreciate it if someone would explain why ser is used in this instance.

Thanks.

3 years ago

2 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
writchie4
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One of the problems with ser vs estar is that we have a tendency to try to learn them by memorizing a big list of scenarios in which each one is used, rather than learning the thought process behind the two verbs. Not only is this difficult, it's also inflexible. If we ever run into a scenario for which we don't have a mnemonic, we've got to stop and think "ok, which one do I use when I have ____?" Not only that, you run into situations like this one where you've got a location, but ser is used.

Try thinking about the verbs in the sense of permanent vs temporary characteristics. (This method isn't foolproof either, but roll with it for now.) Ser is used to define a term, assigning it an essential characteristic that "sticks" to it, no matter what. Estar on the other hand is used to describe the current state of something. In the future, that state might be true, or it might not. Estar doesn't care, it's only about the here and now.

In this sentence, let's replace "here" with something more concrete like "the kitchen". This doesn't change the meaning, but will make it a little easier to visualize.

  • The kitchen is where you eat.

Now, what's going on here? We're defining "the kitchen" to be "the place where you eat". Later in the day, long after meal time, when you're out on the town, is the kitchen still "the place where you eat"? Of course it is. Nothing about the kitchen has changed. Next week, or next year, or in 200 years right before the house is bulldozed to make way for a new shopping center, the kitchen will still be "where you eat". The characteristic we assigned to it was "sticky". Therefore, ser is used.

"But wait", you might say. "If I say, 'The kitchen is on the first floor', isn't that a 'permanent' characteristic too? I still use estar for that, so what gives?!" Yes, you do. And that's where the whole "temporary vs. permanent" thought process falls apart a bit. Although in all likelihood, the kitchen will remain on the first floor for all eternity (or at least until the shopping center goes in), the fact that it's in that specific physical position is not a defining characteristic of the kitchen. Imagine if you will, that we take a giant saw, cut out the kitchen part of the house, and move it up to the second floor. In this case, would the kitchen not still be the same kitchen? Sure it would, and all of its "defining characteristics" would have remained. It would still be "where you eat". It would still have all the furniture, appliances, floor plan, etc that made it "the kitchen" to begin with. It's just in a different spot now. Even though the location of the kitchen feels "permanent", it's not an essential part of the kitchen's definition, so we use estar to talk about it.

I know that's a long reply, but I hope it helps you wrap your head about the two verbs.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidEason1

That is a wonderful explanation. Thank you!

I hadn't even considered the possibility that this was a definition. My thoughts were more along the lines of you eat here, he eats there, and I eat someplace else. Then tomorrow those places might change. So I didn't see the characteristic that was conferred on aquí.

¡Muchas gracias!

3 years ago