The Spanish Phrase "Ser De"

Signage in Mexico

Garden Photo World / Georgianna Lane

A form of the verb ser (which typically means "to be") followed by the preposition de is a common way of describing the nature of something or someone, its ownership, where it or the person is from, or the person or thing's qualities. Following are some examples:

Place of Origin

With this usage, ser de is typically the equivalent of "to be from."

  • Somos de Argentina y queremos emigrar a España. We are from Argentina and want to emigrate to Spain.
  • Empresas que no eran de EEUU dominaban el sector industrial en 2002. Non-U.S. business dominated the industrial sector in 2002.
  • Es importante que yo pueda ver en tu perfil si tú eres de Guatemala. It is important that I can see in your profile if you are from Guatemala.

Ownership or Possession

  • El coche es de mi primo. The car belongs to my cousin.
  • La idea era de Paula y no de Sancho. The idea was Paula's and not Sancho's.
  • ¿Cómo pueden estar tan seguros que esta bolsa es de Laura? How can you be so sure this purse is Laura's?

What Something Is Made Of

  • En México, los tacos son de todo alimento imaginable. In Mexico, tacos are made from every imaginable ingredient.
  • Las paredes de este hotel son de ​papel. The walls in this hotel are made of paper.
  • La inmensa mayoría de la harina consumida es de trigo. The vast majority of flour consumed is made from wheat.

Qualities of a Person or Thing

When ser de is used to provide a description, it often can't be translated directly, and the sentence construction may seem foreign. How the phrase is translated will depend on the context.

  • La casa de mis padres es de dos pisos. My parents' house has two stories.
  • El coche es de 20.000 dólares. It's a $20,000 car.
  • Eres de sangre ligera. You're a likable person.
  • Los teléfonos inalámbricos son de gran utilidad. Wireless telephones are very useful.
  • El mensaje que me han enviado es de mucha risa. The message they sent me is laughable.

Using Ser De With Phrases

As in the above examples, ser de is usually followed by a noun. However, sometimes it can be followed by a phrase that functions as a noun:

  • Las televisiones son de hace por lo menos 30 años. The televisions are at least 30 years old.
  • Soy de donde el mar se une con la tierra. I am from where the sea is one with the land.
  • La primera foto es de cuando estábamos en California. The first photo is of when we were in California.
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Erichsen, Gerald. "The Spanish Phrase "Ser De"." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). The Spanish Phrase "Ser De". Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "The Spanish Phrase "Ser De"." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).