The verbs "ser" and "estar" can be translated with "to be" in English. Below we explain how to use the two verbs.
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.
"Ser" refers to "innate" or permanent characteristics.
For name, identity, origin, profession and religion the verb "ser" is used.
You can use "ser" for unchangeable properties, such as character and appearance.
For impersonal expressions you can use the verb "ser" in Spanish.
The place a person or a thing is from can be described with "ser".
With "ser" you can also talk about the material something is made of.
Time can refer to days, dates, years and the time of the day.
You can use "ser" to express results.
You can form the passive voice with "ser" + participle.
"Estar" is often used to talk about states or transitory properties.
The location of someone or something describes where it is permanently or transitory.
Exception: 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.
You can use "estar" to express a temporary mood or state of a person.
"Estar" is also used to describe temporary and often subjective properties of objects.
"Estar" is used in many fixed idiomatic expressions.
To form ongoing actions you need "estar" + participle.
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|
"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.
4.7/5 from 1 reviews
Hello, Spanish learner! I am Isabel, your Spanish teacher. I am a professional online Spanish teacher for 3 years. I am a native speaker from... Colombia. My lessons are completely in Spanish because I want you to speak as much as possible. During my lessons, we will focus on conversation and pronunciation. But a typical lesson also contains a vocabulary topic and a grammar topic. I will focus on your needs and your mistakes to improve your Spanish as quickly as possible. In the first lesson, we will do a level test to check your current level (CEFR A1, A2, B1, B2, C1) If you would like to improve your Spanish, learn more about the South American culture, gastronomy and traditions, I am your teacher! Or if you just want to talk in Spanish, about any subject you like, I would be happy to meet you online. Send me a message and I will provide you a 30-minute free trial lesson! See you online on Skype. Your Spanish teacher, Isabel Read more
I am Marcus Hartmann, 30 years old and I have been living in Cali, Colombia, for more than four years. There I work as a German teacher for... Spanish-speaking people, young and old. I love the German language and develop many modern methodologies to make the German more playful and easier to learn. I also run a blog and a Facebook page, where I present many tips and tricks that make learning German easier. I teach German for all levels and Spanish for beginners. Read more
I’m French, currently living in the Netherlands. I lived in Paris for almost twenty years, and I know very well my country (and of course... my language, French, my mother tongue). I taught French for two years in Spain, conversation class about culture essentially. In Paris, I was Spanish teacher, I have the Agregation degree which is the highest degree for teaching in France, I'm bilingual. I've participated too in several editorial projects about Spanish teaching and DELE preparation. I have a Spanish Studies Master and I'm currently doing a research about the Spanish and Sefardi Judaism. I have a French as foreign language and a Religious Studies Masters too. I enjoy sharing what I know. I’m a very eclectic person and curious about everything. To give you an idea, my interest (and sometimes hobbies) are: philosophy, spirituality and religions in general, meditation, psychology and psychoanalysis, history, geography, literature, writing (in particular creative writing, and I’m used to write everyday), art (painting, photography), sciences (vulgarisation level) and cultural matters in general. I travel a lot (as a backpacker), sometimes by foot, and the places I know well are France, the Netherlands, Italy and Serbia. One of my qualities is my capacity of adaptation, I enjoy preparing documents to help the student to acquire autonomy, but I love speaking too, and it’s the best way to learn a language. I'm waiting for your message, please when contact me, explain quickly who you are, why you want to study French and what you are looking for exactly. See you soon. Read more