In Catalan and in Spanish we have two verbs: "ser" and "estar" . Both translate into English as "to be". One of the uses of "estar" is to say that something is in a certain state or place. So, for example, in Spanish we'd say: "la belleza a menudo ESTÁ donde menos te lo esperas", which translates into "beauty IS often where you don't expect". My problem here is that I feel something is missing in the English translation: because of using "often", I feel like I should put an adjective or something describing a state after it. So for example I'd say "is often present where....". My question is: is the first translation correct? Or is it necessary to put an extra verb to say that beauty "is located" to a place? In Spanish, "estar" already contains this meaning, hence my doubts.

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    I think I would translate that as "Beauty is often found where you expect it the least". Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:49
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    I’m not sure I understand what exactly the Spanish verbs have to do with this. Be in English carries the meaning of both Spanish verbs, and your translation is fine – there doesn’t have to be an adjective after be for it to mean the same as estar. Would you feel like you had to add something in in other senses, like está bien or estoy cansado? Those would also just be “it’s okay” and “I’m tired”. [Also note that located, situated, present, etc., aren’t verbs in a context like this, but adjectives.] Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:51
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, indeed I wouldn't add anything after "estar" in Spanish, but sometimes I feel like missing something when I use "to be" in a "plain" mode. It's funny actually, because non-Spanish speakers have the opposite problem when they learn Spanish: how to make the difference between "ser" and "estar" :D
    – Claudi
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


All of your solutions are correct, and the choice will depend on what kind of tone the speaker wants to set: More formal ... or more casual?

Beauty's in the eye of the beholder is something I might say to my girlfriend when she says I bought an ugly lamp. :-) So that IS is very casual.

One of the lame things about (American) English is that we use is / to-be all the freaking time. We sound pretty generic when we talk, compared to say, Germans. There, yes, they'd more frequently use sich befinden to say where something "is".

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    But we also do that when we say something like "Starfish are found in the sea".
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 0:55

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