Most of us took basic Spanish in high school. Think back to that and the first verb taught. It is the most used verb in any language hence it has primacy in the curriculum. The verb is the infinitive to be. In Spanish it has two forms dependent upon the object that is being. Estar, and both mean “to be”, but the former refers to things that are transitory, changeable, while the other refers to things considered permanent.
I am a man, soy un hombre. Being a man is considered permanent (not withstanding certain surgeries and the existence of the city of San Francisco)
I am tired, estoy consado. Presumable being tired is not permanent, we will rest and not be tired.
How does it work with family and marriage? Marriage itself is considered, idiomatically, permanent. Soy casado….I am married.Someone needs license to change this because divorce is prolific in places like Mexico now, especially among the middle and affluent classes. Thanks NAFTA.
Worse and more confusing is the condition of being family. Someone sees a photo of me, my wife, and my kids…they ask “who is that”, I reply, “that is my family” or “son mi familia”, son being the conjugation of the verb ser, which is the one expressing permanence.If it was a photo of me, my siblings and my parents, and they ask who it is, my answer would be exactly the same, “son mi familia”.
But….I get divorced, I get remarried, and there are some kids from her prior marriage, and we add a photo of my NEW family. Im asked, who is that? “That is my family”. But then who is THAT they say pointing to the other one with me, the ex wife, and kids. “Thats my ex wife and kids”. Its not my family.
But I thought family was permanent. It is so much so that the existential verb form ser is chosen in Spanish. What about the photo with my parents and siblings, can it ever be rendered not permanent? No, they are and always will be my family.
The more we see the permanence of marriage lessened at the hands and fickle emotions of women who divorce for frivolous reasons, the more these verb implications get out of whack (yes men divorce too, its silly to even mention though if you like the 80/20 rule where you should not spend 80% of your attention on 20% of a problem)
My title refers to the two photos, the first is of me and my parents and siblings and then it refers to my wife and kids:
Eso es mi familia, pero eso esta mi familia.
This is my family (permanent) but this is my family (temporary).
Let it ALWAYS be ser.