Ser vs Estar: The Ultimate Guide + EXERCISES

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

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SER VS ESTAR: The ultimate guide

The verbs SER and ESTAR are one of the verbs that cause great confusion to English speakers that's because these verbs can be translated as the verb [To Be].

To learn how to differentiate them definitively we are going to start with the conjugation of these verbs and at the end of the article, you will find a quiz to practice what you have learned.

conjugation of the verbs SER and ESTAR

The verb SER is used to talk about permanent characteristics. When referring to a person you can use the verb ser to describe everything that makes that person how it is, and when talking about an object, you can describe the color, material, or origin. Find below a few examples using the verb in different situations.

1. Physical appearance and personality traits. E.x:

  • Mis padres son altos - My parents are tall.

  • Juan es muy simpático - Juan is very nice.

  • En mi familia, somos todos rubios - In my family, we are all blonde.

  • La taza es amarilla - The cup is yellow.

2. Identity or permanent features (nationality, religion, etc.). E.x:

  • Yo soy Martín - I’m Martin.

  • Mi familia es católica - My family is catholic.

  • Este es el Teatro Municipal - This is the Municipal Theater.

  • Este collar es de oro - This is a gold necklace.

3. Family or personal relationships. E.x:

  • Sara y María son mis hermanas - Sara and María are my sisters.

  • Juan es mi amigo - Juan is my friend.

  • Mariana es mi prima - Mariana is my cousin.

  • Este señor es mi jefe - This man is my boss.

4. When or where an event takes place. E.x:

  • El juego de fútbol americano es en Boston - The football game is in Boston.

  • El concierto es el miércoles - The concert is on Wednesday.

  • Mi cumpleaños es la semana próxima - My birthday is next week.

5. With the preposition PARA indicates recipient or purpose. E.x:

  • Este regalo es para Gabriel - This present is for Gabriel.

  • Esta máquina es para hacer jugos - This machine is for making juice.

6. Ask for a price. E.x:

  • ¿Cuánto es? - How much is this?

  • Son 2 dólares - Is 2 dollars.

NOTE: With the preposition A it is used with ESTAR. Ex: ¿A cuánto están las manzanas? - How much are the apples?

7. Indicate a profession or occupation. E.x:

  • Juana es una Periodista - Juana is a Journalist.

  • Yo soy Ingeniero - I’m an Engineer.

8. Tell and ask for the time. E.x:

  • ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

  • Son las 2 de la tarde - It’s 2 o’clock.

The verb ESTAR is used to talk about current characteristics and locations. Use it to talk about where are object is for example, but when referring to a person you can use it to talk about the health condition, mood, or marital status.

1. Temporary moods or health conditions. E.x:

  • Ella está muy triste por el examen - She’s sad about the test.

  • María está enferma - Maria is sick.

  • Estoy de mal humor - I'm in a bad mood.

  • Estamos muy cansados - We are very tired.

2. Appearance and temporary conditions. E.x:

  • Juan está muy bronceado - Juans is very tan.

  • Mi abuela está muy bien - My grandmother is very good.

  • Los niños están grandes - The children are big.

3. Marital status. E.x:

  • Estoy casado/a - I’m married.

  • Estoy divorciado/a - I’m divorced.

  • Estoy soltero/a - I’m single.

NOTE: Soy viudo/a - I’m a widower.

4. Location. Ex:

  • Mi casa está en la playa - My house is on the beach.

  • El estadio está en la ciudad - The stadium is in the city.

  • Estoy en mi casa - I'm at home.

  • Los jugadores están en el hotel - The players are in the hotel.

5. ESTAR + Gerundio. E.x:

This construction is used to describe an action in progress). Ex:

  • Estamos comiendo en el jardín - We are eating in the garden.

  • Estoy bebiendo una copa de vino - I’m drinking a glass of wine.

  • Están limpiando la casa - I’m cleaning the house.

Now that you know how to use the verbs SER and ESTAR in Spanish, complete THIS QUIZ to practice and master these important verbs.

If you have any questions you can leave them in the comment or take your Spanish learning to the next level by booking a FREE Intro-Class with New Way to start learning Spanish the right way.

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