• Spanish grammar
  • 1 Spanish alphabet [0/1]
  • 2 Spanish articles [0/6]
  • 3 Spanish nouns [0/8]
  • 4 Spanish adjectives [0/17]
  • 5 Spanish numbers [0/6]
  • 6 Spanish pronouns [0/32]
  • Spanish pronoun quiz - Flashcards (Score -/-)Free
  • Spanish pronoun quiz - Type identification (Score -/-)Free
  • Spanish practice quiz - Drag and drop the pronoun (Score -/-)Free
  • Spanish pronouns in Spanish practice quiz (Score -/-)Free
  • Spanish pronoun quiz - Fill in the blanks (Score -/-)Free
  • 6.1 Spanish personal pronouns [0/15]
  • 6.2 Spanish reflexive pronouns [0/2]
  • 6.3 Spanish possessive pronouns [0/2]
  • 6.4 Spanish demonstrative pronouns [0/2]
  • 6.5 Spanish interrogative pronouns [0/3]
  • 6.6 Spanish relative pronouns [0/3]
  • 7 Adverbs in Spanish [0/18]
  • 8 Sentence structure and word order in Spanish [0/4]
  • 9 Spanish prepositions [0/2]
  • 10 Spanish tenses and verb conjugation [0/27]
  • 10.1 Present tense in Spanish (el presente) [0/3]
  • 10.2 Past tenses in Spanish (el pasado) [0/18]
  • 10.2.1 Pretérito perfecto simple (indefinido) in Spanish [0/3]
  • 10.2.2 Pretérito perfecto compuesto in Spanish [0/3]
  • 10.2.3 Difference between Pretérito Perfecto and Indefinido [0/3]
  • 10.2.4 Pretérito Imperfecto in Spanish [0/3]
  • 10.2.5 Difference between imperfecto and indefinido [0/3]
  • 10.2.6 Pretérito pluscuamperfecto in Spanish [0/3]
  • 10.3 Future tense in Spanish (el futuro) [0/6]
  • 11 Difference between "ser" and "estar" in Spanish [0/3]
  • 12 Spanish verbs [0/7]
  • 13 Gerund in Spanish (el gerundio) [0/3]
  • 14 Imperative in Spanish (imperativo) [0/6]
  • 15 Passive in Spanish (voz pasiva) [0/3]
  • 16 Negation in Spanish [0/2]
  • Difference between "ser" and "estar" in Spanish

    The verbs "ser" and "estar" can be translated with "to be" in English. Below we explain how to use the two verbs.

    Distinction between "ser" and "estar"

    In general it can be said that "ser" refers to "innate" characteristics, while "estar" is often used to talk about states or transitory properties. Beside of that, "estar" is also used to describe geographical positions

    Usage and examples with "ser"

    "Ser" refers to "innate" or permanent characteristics.

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    Personal information

    For name, identity, origin, profession and religion the verb "ser" is used. 

    • Laura es alemana. - Laura is German. 
    • Es un actor famoso. - He is a famous actor. 

    Unchangeable properties

    You can use "ser" for unchangeable properties, such as character and appearance.

    • Estos zapatos son demasiado caros. - These shoes are too expensive.
    • Lena es muy guapa. - Lena is very pretty.

    Impersonal expressions

    For impersonal expressions you can use the verb "ser" in Spanish.

    • Es verdad. - It's true.
    • Es necesario que estudies mucho. - It is necessary that you study a lot.

    Ownership relations

    The place a person or a thing is from can be described with "ser". 

    • Este coche es del jefe. - This car belongs to the boss.
    • El libro es tuyo. - The book is yours. 

    Material (ser + de)

    With "ser" you can also talk about the material something is made of. 

    • La mesa es de madera. - The table is made of wood.
    • El jarrón es de vidrio. - The vase is made of glass. 


    Time can refer to days, dates, years and the time of the day

    • Hoy es el 21 de enero. - Today is the 21st of January. 
    • Es muy tarde, ya son las dos. - It is very late, it is already two.  

    Numbers and prices

    You can use "ser" to express results

    • Diez y cinco son quince. - Ten and five are fifteen.
    • Son veinte euros.  - It's twenty Euros. 

    Passive voice

    You can form the passive voice with "ser" + participle.

    • La comida es preparada. - The food is prepared. 
    • El dinero es robado. - The money is robbed. 

    Usage and examples with "estar"

    "Estar" is often used to talk about states or transitory properties.

    Geographical location 

    The location of someone or something describes where it is permanently or transitory

    • Guatemala está en Centroamérica. - Guatemala is in Central America. 
    • Mis zapatos negros no están aquí. -  My black shoes are not here.

    enlightenedException: The location of an event/party is described using "ser", not "estar". Example: La fiesta es en mi casa. - The party is in my house. 

    Mood/conditions of a person

    You can use "estar" to express a temporary mood or state of a person

    • Mi madre está enferma. - My mother is sick. 
    • Estamos muy cansados. - We are very tired. 

    Properties of objects

    "Estar" is also used to describe temporary and often subjective properties of objects

    • El té está caliente. - The tea is hot. 
    • Esta chaqueta está demasiado cara. - This jacket is too expensive.

    Idiomatic expressions

    "Estar" is used in many fixed idiomatic expressions.

    • Estoy a favor del viaje. -  I'm in favor of the trip. 
    • ¿Están de acuerdo? -  Do they agree?


    To form ongoing actions you need "estar" + participle

    • Estoy leyendo un libro. - I am reading a book. 
    • Estamos trabajando. - We are working.

    Meaning changes with "ser" and "estar"

    There are some adjectives that can be used with both "ser" and "estar" to form sentences. The meaning depends of the verb. In the following table you can find some examples:

    "ser" + adjective translation "estar"+ adjective translation
    ser inteligente (to) be an intelligent person estar inteligente (to) be intelligent (special moment)
    ser abierto/a (to) be open-minded estar abierto/a (to) be open (e.g. door, window)
    ser aburrido/a (to) be boring  estar aburrido/a (to) be bored
    ser enfermo/a (to) be chronically ill estar enfermo/a (to) be temporarily ill 
    ser bueno/a (to) be good estar bueno/a (to) be attractive
    ser cansado/a (to) be a tiring person estar cansado/a (to) be tired
    ser malo/a (to) be bad estar malo/a (to) be ill
    ser rico/a (to) be rich estar rico/a (to) be tasty
    ser viejo/a (to) be old estar viejo/a (to) look old


    enlightened"Bien" and "mal" are only used in combination with "estar"! → "Está bien." - "It's okay."

    In this lesson you learned how to use the verbs "ser" and "estar" correctly. Now test your knowledge in our free exercises. yes


    Let's practice "ser" and "estar"

    Exercise for using "ser" and "estar"

    Exercise about meaning changes with "ser" and "estar"