Ser or Ficar


Senior Member
I do not understand the difference between the two when translating 'to be'.

Today I said 'Se pudesse, todo mundo ficaria preguicoso'
My teacher said I can't say this because a person is (Ser) preguicoso and 'ficar preguicoso' sounds unnatural.

But why is this? When does one use ficar or ser then?
I'm aware that there is another thread concerned with the same question but none of the answers help me at all.

Thanks for any help you can give
  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Ficar often means "to become". A similarly hard to grasp verb in English, which has a close meaning, is "to get".
    It can also mean "to stay/remain"; in this sense, it could be used as you did. But this was probably not the meaning that you had in mind.


    Senior Member
    English (British)
    I've had the same problem many times (most, if not all non-native Portuguese speakers do, I'm sure). To me, the key to understanding how ficar operates in these senses was exactly what Outsider said, thinking of our use of "to get" meaning "to become".

    Also, remember that estar/ficar refer to temporary states whilst ser refers to permanent states. Features of character arguably DO change, but they may not. Emotions, physical locations clearly WILL change.

    What helped me understand ficar was funnily enough describing a night out where I got drunk. Where "eu fiquei embriagado". :eek:

    Think about the logic in English: "If they could, everyone would be lazy"

    The 'be' is a permanent character feature - it would sound a bit strange for us to say "If they could, everyone would get/become lazy", wouldn't it?

    Now think about this:

    "If they could, everyone would be happy"

    In English, that seems a bit strange. I think I'd have to add "all the time" - "If they could, everyone would be happy all the time"; emotions are transitory in a way that character features aren't, it's just we don't differentiate in English.
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >