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Spanish Lessons 101: Difference Between “Ser” and “Estar”

If you are on a Spanish learning journey, you will eventually arrive at the verb “to be”. This is where your Spanish lessons start getting very tricky. In Spanish, there are not one, but two verbs to say “to be”; “ser” and “estar.”

In this article, we will introduce you to these Spanish verbs, explain what they mean, and review their conjugation. Additionally, we will provide various examples to help you practice and integrate the verbs “ser” and “estar”, which are fundamental in Spanish.

Let’s get started!

Meaning of Spanish Verbs “Ser” and “Estar”

The meaning of “ser” and “estar” is one of the most important topics in online Spanish courses during your Spanish learning process. The reason is that they are the basics of the Spanish language that you use on daily basis. Though they both translate as “to be” in English, they have different meanings and they are used to express different things.

The easiest way to think is that the verb “ser” is used to talk about and describe essential characteristics of people, things, and situations, which are permanent. On the other hand, the Spanish verb “estar” is used to describe and talk about locations, emotions, actions, and conditions, which are temporary.

Let’s take a look at “to be sad” as an example. When translated into Spanish, it can have two different meanings, depending on the verb you use.

  • If you say “La película es triste”, it means that it is a saddening movie. It’s a defining characteristic about this movie, which is not a temporary state.

  • If you say “Estoy triste”, it means you are sad at the moment, but it will probably change after a while. It is not something that defines who you are as a person.

Uses of the Verb “Ser”

“Ser” can be used to talk about many different things. Its use cases are the following:

  • To talk about the day, date, and hour.

Example: “Hoy es Martes”.

  • To talk about a place of origin.

Example: “Este café fue hecho en Colombia”.

  • To talk about an occupation.

Example: “Él es estudiante”.

  • To talk about nationality.

Example: “John es de Inglaterra”.

  • To talk about affiliations.

Example: “Ana es católica”.

  • To talk about the material of something.

Example: “Mi vestido es de algodón”.

  • To talk about possession.

Example: “El vaso amarillo es mío”.

  • To talk about the relationship between people.

Example: “Ella es su esposa”.

  • To talk about an event location.

Example: “Su cumpleaños es en un restaurante”.

  • To talk about essential characteristics or qualities.

Example: “María es una persona honesta”.

Uses of the Spanish Verb “Estar”

The list of uses for “estar” is shorter but just as important to understand. Its use cases are the following:

  • Talk about location.

Example: “La farmacia está en la plaza.”

  • Talk about a condition, such as emotions.

Example: “Ella está molesta con Pedro.”

  • Use idiomatic expressions.

Example: “Andrés está en todo”. “Estar en todo” means "to be on top of everything.”

  • Use progressive tenses.

Example: “Mi mamá está horneando un pastel.”

Spanish Lessons: “Ser” and “Estar” Conjugation

One of the most important parts of all Spanish Lessons is “ser” and “estar” conjugation because you’ll constantly use these verbs. To help you learn them correctly, here are the conjugations and a few examples so you can practice!

“Ser” Conjugation

“Estar” Conjugation

estar conjugation

As you can see, the verbs “ser” and “estar” are an essential part of Spanish lessons. The more you practice, the better! Use our examples as a guide and create your own sentences so you can integrate proper usage and continue your Spanish learning journey with confidence.


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