Auxiliary verbs


The verb haver to have have lost its semantic usage and became the standard auxiliary for constructing the compound tenses.

It is also used in two fundamental constructions:


The verb tenir to have, possess, own may be used as an auxiliary, similar in function to haver, but with a different nuance, cf.; The constructions with tenir suggest a certain continuity over time, while those with haver are completely neutral. The tenir constructions can be used only with transitive verbs.


The verb anar to go is used as an auxiliary with infinitives to construct the periphrastical past tense. A little variation of present indicative is used :

Ésser (Ser)

The verb ésser (ser) to be is used in passive voice constructions, cf.: It is also used as a copulative verb for linking a noun or noun group to a predicative, i.e., a word group indicating a quality, state or condition, cf.:


The verb estar, also meaning to be, is used as an auxiliary with gerunds, or ‘-ing’-like forms, cf.: However, like ser it can also be used as a copulative, cf.:

Ésser and Estar

The difference between ésser and estar is like in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.

The verb ser is used with permanent qualities, which are not likely to be modified, while estar is used with qualities that are transient or a result of transformation. A sick person is apt to recover, so the verb must be estar. In some cases, subjectivity plays a role in choosing between ser and estar. You may say, for instance, Aquesta nena és alta ‘This girl is tall, but you may also say Aquesta nena està alta if you think that her stature has increased noticeably in recent times, and you want to emphasize that dramatic growth.


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