CONVERSA To be or to be called? Now, that is the question!

To be or to be called? Now, that is the question!

In earlier entries, we have talked about how to introduce yourself in Spanish and several phrases you can use to start a successful introduction. Today, however, we are going to go a bit deeper and get acquainted with the grammar behind introductions. Let’s review the Spanish verbs “ser” and “llamarse”.

Much like in English, the most common structures are “soy” (I am) or “me llamo” (my name is). Very simple. But what happens if you want to ask the other person for their name? Or if you want to introduce somebody else? You will need to know all the forms of these verbs in order to do that.

If you are learning Spanish you probably know that verbs are trickier than in English. The verb “ser” (to be) is irregular and its form varies considerably depending on the subject (I, you, them, etc). “Llamarse” (literally to be called), on the other hand, is a regular verb, so if you know the word endings for regular verbs, you won’t find much difficulty. But it is a reflexive verb, meaning it comes with the pronoun “se” which also changes. Don’t worry if you find this explanation a bit confusing, we will explain in detail how verbs work in Spanish soon, so let’s now focus on Ser vs Llamarse.

Ser vs Llamarse

As mentioned above, these are the usual phrases that we can use:

  • Yo soy Delia – I’m Delia
  • (Yo) me llamo Delia – My name is Delia

So what if you want to introduce someone else? Well let’s see all the forms:


CONVERSA CONVERSA To be or to be called? Now, that is the question!

NOTE: Now, we have talked about “llamarse” as “to be called”, but since this is not a structure that you typically find in English, the most fitting translation is “my/your/her… name is”.

If you are wondering why the subject pronouns (I, you, etc) are in brackets, that is because they are not necessary, we understand who it is that we are talking about by the verb ending.

For example, a very simple introduction among three people could go something like this:

  • ¡Hola! ¿Cómo os llamáis? – Hello! What’re your names?
  • Hola, yo soy Delia y esta es mi amiga Rosa. ¿Y tú, cómo te llamas? – Hi, I’m Delia and this is my friend Rosa. What’s your name?
  • Yo me llamo Inés  My name is Inés

As you can see, there isn’t really a difference in meaning or style between the verbs “ser” and “llamarse”. Both are perfectly adequate in any situation. Maybe “¿Cómo te llamas?” is more appropriate than “who are you?”, as the meaning behind “llamarse” is specific to names and that question may sound rude, depending on the tone or situation.

Did you get any of that? Give yourself time, and you’ll master Spanish in the blink of an eye!

Don’t forget to practice with this free online activity and continue learning Spanish!

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