STAY DOESN’T MEAN ‘ESTAR’.
Learn why and how to stop making this mistake.
Using ‘stay’ when students want to say ‘estar’. A classic. I have been correcting this common error at all levels for years.
Why can’t you say ‘Yesterday I stayed with my friends’ to mean ‘Ayer estuve con mis amigos’?’
Continue reading and you will soon find out.
Stay – a false friend.
What is a ‘false friend’? A false friend is a word which is very similar in form to a word in your native language but has totally different meanings (significados) in each language.
Common examples of false friends in English – Spanish are: ‘assist’ (it doesn’t mean ‘asistir’, it actually means ‘ayudar’. ‘Asistir’ in English is ‘to attend’); ‘embarrased’ (it doesn’t mean ‘embarazada’, but ‘avergonzado/a’. In English, ‘embarazada’ is ‘pregnant’).
There are even false friends which can get you into a lot of trouble. BE CAREFUL! ‘To molest’ doen’t means ‘molestar’ (bother) it means ‘abusar sexualmente’!; ‘constipated’ doesn’t mean ‘costipado’ (to have a cold). It means ‘estreñido’, so you will probably get the wrong medicine at the pharmacy!
STAY is also a false friend, as it DOES NOT MEAN ‘ESTAR’. It actually means ‘quedarse’, ‘permanecer’ o ‘alojarse’. So you can say:
- When I travel to Madrid I usually stay in the Sol Hotel. – Cuando viajo a Madrid normalmente me alojo en el Hotel Sol.
- I will stay a little bit longer in the office. I have lots to do.- Me quedaré un poco más en la oficina. Tengo muchísimas cosas que hacer.
How to say ‘estar’ in English.
So, you may ask yourself, how do we say ‘estar’ in English? Just go back to when you were starting to learn English!
TO BE = SER O ESTAR
If we want to say ‘he estado con la familia’ or ‘estuve en el parque’, we have to use the verb ‘To Be’ in its correct verbal tense: ‘I have been with the family’:he estado; ‘I was in the park’: estuve, etc.
Free infographic to download!
I hope this explanation will help you to stop using ‘stay’ to mean ‘estar’.
You might still make this mistake for a while, which would be normal, so don’t worry.
Your brain has to get used to (acostumbrarse) to use the verb ‘To Be’.
But now you are aware (consciente) that it is wrong (incorrecto) and therefore little by little you will correct yourself and in time you won’t be using ‘stay’ as ‘estar’ at all!