Revision sheet for the spies who love me

Meu nome is Bond, Santiago Bond.

Meu nome is Bond, Santiago Bond.

For all those millions and millions of people who are trying to learn five Romance languages at once – don’t laugh, think of all those students at the Chinese Secret International Academy of Multilingual Espionage, for whom My Five Romances is required reading, and if the Chinese are doing it you can be sure the Russians, Brazilians, Indians, Americans, North Koreans et al are doing it too – here’s a handy revision sheet.

I’ve grouped together the subject pronouns and the verbs “to be” in the five Romance languages. Remember, in Portuguese and Spanish, ser is used for more permanent states (such as, for example “I am a spy”) and estar with temporary ones (such as “I’m horny”).

Students who didn’t make it into the Chinese Secret International Academy of Multilingual Espionage but who got a consolation place in the Romance Language Department at the Chinese Secret International Academy of Bilingual Espionage should refer to the drop down menus under Grammar and Verbs, where they will find the relevant information in their chosen Romance language.

To all my secret students, I say have a nice weekend, but be sure to do some revision as you’ll be tested on Monday during the language session, which immediately follows the “How to Spy Through Keyholes” tutorial. You have been warned!

French (être):

singular:  je suis;                      tu es;                  il, elle est;

plural:  nous sommes;          vous êtes;            ils, elles sont


Portuguese (ser)

singular: eu sou               tu és;                você,  ele, ela é

plural:  nós somos                                  vocês, eles, elas  são

Portuguese (estar)

singular: eu estou;               tu estás;               você ele, ela, está

plural: nós estamos;                                    vocês, eles, elas,  estão


Spanish (ser)

singular: yo soy;                   eres;                él, ella, usted es;

plural: nosotros -as  somos;      vosotros -as sois;    ellos, ellas, ustedes son

Spanish (estar)

yo estoy;                          estás;                   él, ella, usted está;

nosotros -as estamos;     vosotros -as estáis;      ellos, ellas, ustedes están


Italian (essere)

singular: io sono;                         tu sei;                    Lei, lui, lei è 

plural:  noi siamo;                      voi siete;                       loro sono 

Italian (stare, which can also mean “to stay”)

singular: io sto;                   tu stai;                 Lei, lui, lei sta; 

plural:  noi  stiamo            voi state;              loro  stanno


Romanian (a fi)

singular: eu sunt;                 tu eşti;                      el, ea este

plural: noi suntem             voi sunteţi                  ei, ele sunt


To help remember the subject pronouns, note:

  • The first person singular (“I“) is the same in Portuguese and Romanianeu.
  • The first person singular also looks pretty much the same in Spanish and Italianyo and io.
  • The second person singular (“you“) informal form tu is used in all five languages, with just one slight difference in that in Spanish it has an accent – . (But remember that in Brazil tu is rarely used, use você instead.)
  • The third person singular (he and she) forms are pretty much an “il” or “el” sound for him and an “elle” or “ela” sound for her in all languages except in Italian, with its lui and lei. The same applies with the plural equivalents. 
  • The first and second person plural forms (“we” and “you“) are the same in Italian and Romaniannoi and voi.

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