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Elena Galkina » SER & ESTAR = TWO FACES OF THE VERB "TO BE"

SER & ESTAR = TWO FACES OF THE VERB "TO BE"


SER & ESTAR === TWO FACES OF THE VERB "TO BE"

 

One of the most stressful parts of learning Spanish is knowing the difference between ser and estar. But it doesn´t have to be stressful! While both of these verbs mean "to be" and are used all the time in daily communication, the following simple rules should help you to differentiate between the two.

 

Ser is used to classify and identify permanent or lasting attributes. If this general rule is too vague for you, think of the acronym D.O.T. Ser is used for Descriptions of a person or thing, Origins of a person or thing, and Time.

1. Description

For description, think of what you would say if someone asked you “How would you describe____?” These are the essential qualities that define a person or thing and probably won’t change any time soon. These descriptions can be names, physical descriptions, personality or characteristic descriptions, occupations, religions, and even relationships to other people

  • Yo soy Raúl. (I am Raúl.)
  • Yo soy alta, morena, y delgada. (I am tall, dark-skinned, and thin.)
  • Amalia es inteligente, atrevida, y amable. (Amalia is intelligente, daring, and friendly.)
  • Soy profesora de español. (I am a Spanish teacher.)
  • Andrés es católico. (Andrés is Catholic.)
  • Lynne es mi madre. (Lynne is my mother.)

2. Origin

The place a person is from or the material something is made from is an origin. The origin of someone or something is not going to change when we use ser.

  • Celia es de España. (Celia is from Spain.)
  • Las sillas son de madera. (The chairs are made of wood.)

3. Time

Time includes days, dates, and hours. For hours, use es for one o´clock and son for all other hours.

  • Hoy es miércoles. (Today is Wednesday.)
  • Ayer fue mi cumpleaños. (Yesterday was my birthday.)
  • Ahora es la una y media. (Right now it is one thirty.)

 

 
 
 
 
 

Estar is used to indicate temporary states and locations. If the general rule doesn’t suffice, think of the acronym LoCo. Estar is used for Locations and Conditions.

1. Locations 

These can be a physical position or posture or simply where something is (temporarily, permanently, or even conceptually).

  • Mi abuela está sentada. (My grandmother is sitting down/seated.)
  • El baño está a la derecha de la sala. (The bathroom is to the right of the living room.)
  • Estamos en el café ahora y estaremos en el cine en 20 minutos. (We are at the café right now and we will be at the movie theatre in 20 minutes.)
  • Mi abuelo está en la luna. (My grandfather is out of it/lost.)

*Exception! The location of an event or party is described using Ser, not Estar.

  • La fiesta es en mi casa. (The party is at my house.)

2. Conditions 

These can be physical, mental, or emotional states. Things that are likely to vary over several hours, days, or even years can be conditions.

  • Estoy tan cansada esta mañana. (I am so tired this morning.)
  • Mis niños están enfermos hoy. (My children are sick today.)
  • Mi padre está un poco loco. (My father is (acting) a little crazy.)
  • Estoy triste. (I am sad.)
  • Ella está contenta porque recibió unas flores de su novio. (She is happy because she received some flowers from her boyfriend.)
     
  SER  
Yo soy  I  am  estoy
tu eres you ( fam) are estás
El/ella
Usted
es
he / she is
you (formal) are
está
nosotros somos we are estamos
vosotros sois
you  (plural familiar) are
(used only in Spain!!)
estáis  (Spain only)
Ellos, ellas,
Ustedes
son
they are
you all are
están