Ser - preterito o imperfecto?

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C Hayden

Member
English; USA
Which is correct - and why?

El actor fue famoso.
El actor era famoso.

I had a spanish teacher who told me that the correct verb is fue, because it is a statement of valoración (assessment?) This confuses me because
a) there is no time specific reference - wouldn't it be "era" and
b) in all the research online I have done, I have not found any explanations of using the verb ser in relation to valoración. What am I missing?

Muchas gracias por su ayuda.
 
  • donbill

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Inib is right. Either sentence could be correct, but since you mention valoración, fue seems more likely. The preterit of ser often sums up an event or situation: la conferencia fue interesante, aquella semana fue horrible, fue difícil terminar el proyecto, etc. So if we say el actor fue famoso, we mean that he turned out to be famous or he wound up being famous. You might say that we're looking at his entire career as a finished block of time, completely compartmentalized, completely isolated from the present. If, on the other hand, we say era famoso, we mean that at any time during his career, that's the apt description for him. The essential difference is between describing his life as an actor as it developed (era) contrasted with summing up the way it turned out (fue).
     
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