Unit 8.2

Copulative or Attributive Verbs

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Introduction

Copulative or attributive verbs [verbos copulativos o atributivos] (ser, estar and parecer) serve to link a subject with an attribute.

Form

Copulative or attributive verbs [verbos copulativos o atributivos] have an obligatory complement called an attribute [atributo], a noun phrase or an adjective. They never have a direct complement. The copulative verbs we use are ser and estar.

They appear in copulative sentences following this structure:
(Subject +) Copulative verb + attribute + …. 

The presence or absence of the copulative verbs ser and estar depends on the adjectives.

Ser

The verb ser is used:

  • without adjectives to talk about:
    • possession;
      quantities and prices;
      cause (with the preposition por);
      finality.
  • with adjectives that can only go with ser (p. ej.: necesario, probable, importante, evidente, propio, etc.).

Estar

The verb estar is used:

  • without adjectives to talk about:
    • temporal location (dates, months, seasons with the prepositions a or en);
      weather (with the preposition a).
  • with adjectives that can only go with estar (p. ej.: contento, cansado, triste, atento, satisfecho, etc.).

Example

Ser:

  • Ese dibujo que ves en la pared es la mío;
  • Los tres libros son de papel grueso;
  • Es necesario tener buena luz para sacar fotos;
  • Es importante que mires bien que has respondido todas las preguntas del examen una vez lo hayas terminado;
  • Las playas de Bali son muy relajantes, no se oye ningún ruido.

Estar:

  • Mi padre está fuerte porque va al gimnasio todos los días.;
  • La hierba no va a estar seca para el picnic, está lloviendo a mares;
  • ¿Estás contento de volver a estar en casa, le encantan las vistas que tiene desde su ventana;
  • Uno de mis gatos, el de color claro, está muy triste últimamente;
  • A la mitad de la clase no están mirando a la pizarra mientras la profesora explica.

Use

Copulative or attributive verbs have almost no concrete meaning; they are just a connection between the subject and the attribute and express a state, essence or quality of the subject.

Summary

In Spanish, there are copulative or attributive verbs, which are ser and estar. They appear in copulative sentences following this formula:
(Subject +) copulative verb + attribute+ …

For example:
— «Ana está cansada». = Ana – subject; está – copulative verb; cansada – attribute;
— «Soy profesor de matemáticas». = (yo) – subject; soy – copulative verb; profesor de matemáticas – attribute.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

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