Coffee /the coffee is good - ser / estar

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Arrius, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    I realise that the choice between these two verbs must have been discussed in innumerable threads, but I have just come across an incidence that I find puzzling. It was in an American TV movie dubbed into Iberian Spanish, and went like this:
    Mujer: ¿Quieres entrar para tomar una taza de café?
    Hombre: Sabes ya que yo no bebo café... (hesitates)..pero dicen que está muy bueno: lo probaré.
    The man is talking about coffee in general not the particular kind of coffee that the woman makes. I would have expected es or even sea here instead of está.
    Vuestros comentarios por favor.
  2. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    The only reason that my equally UK brain can come up with would make it run something like:
    "but they say that it (coffee or maybe "the coffee that we're getting") is going through a very good patch just now".
    That would get across the notion of the "condition", if not of the coffee, perhaps of the coffee-supply or some auxiliary feature thereof.

    All the best,
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    If he really is talking about coffee in general, then the translation is indeed puzzling. I would only expect estar if the speaker meant that that particular cup of coffee was very good. Perhaps the translator made a mistake.
  4. papa majada Senior Member

    Lo que no entiendo es el "dicen que está muy bueno." ¿Se refiere al café que hace ella? No se referirá al café en general porque según el diálago él antes tomaba café y por tanto sabría si está bueno o no. En todo caso, "estar" es el verbo que se usa muchas veces en casos así, hablando de la comida y bebida. No sé cómo explicarlo en términos más gramaticales, supongo que es coloquial y ya está!
  5. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    The man's intonation seemed to imply that he was talking in general terms, so I suppose it was a mistake, or some confusion on the translator's part. I am relieved however, to find that others find it rather puzzling too. PS Have just noted papa majada's observation. This business with Ser and Estar is far from easy, e.g. you always say está muerto for a condition that is generally considered to be permanent, at least clinically speaking.
  6. argieguy

    argieguy Senior Member

    argentina spanish
    Cuando hablamos de comida o bebida y queremos expresar como la sentimos, como sabe, que gusto tiene despues de probarla se usa el verbo estar y no ser.
    LA carne està buena
    La leches està amarga

    Pero cuando hablamos de las cualidades de las comidas y bebidas en gral se usa el verbo SEr

    La carne es buena cuando esta bien asada
    La leche es mala cuando tomas en exceso
  7. San Senior Member

    Está bueno = it tastes good.

    The man has been told this woman makes good testing coffee, and he remembers that when she invites him to have one. There is nothing out of the ordinary.
  8. david13

    david13 Senior Member

    Ciudad de México
    USA - US English
    Just a quick interjection (as it may be slightly off topic): With regard to estar muerto, muerto is not an inherent condition, like, for example, la nieve es blanca. You have to be alive before you die. That change requires estar with muerto.
  9. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    Very true,david13, like mi padre está viejo (because he used to be young), but it is probably misleading to try to be consistently logical about this problem. I think you would say El Coloseo es una ruina, although obviously it wasn't always so.
  10. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Normally you'd say es, because that's how you've always known it, but if you were some time traveller who had lived in ancient Rome you might use está. ;)
  11. mochilero

    mochilero Senior Member

    UK English
    I would use "es" with "El Coloseo es una ruina" because the sentence is about identification, not about state or location.
  12. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Or if you were, say, deploring that the civil authorities of Rome had neglected to look after the monument, and it had degraded significantly in recent years.

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