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Difference Between Ser and Estar in Spanish: A Simple Guide

Ser, or estar, that is the question. Both words mean to be in English. So what’s the difference between ser and estar? Let’s find out.


Do you know how to conjugate ser and estar in all its tenses? If not, don’t forget to check out all the forms of ser and estar.


Difference Between Ser and Estar

The Spanish verb ser is usually used to describe traits that are permanent. On the other hand, estar is used to refer to conditions that are temporary.

As you go through this guide, think of the way in which the uses of ser are permanent and the uses of estar are temporary.

Different Uses of Ser

In Spanish, the verb ser is used to express different concepts. It is used to express descriptions, occupations, family relationships and much more.  

Use Ser to Express Descriptions

Use the verb ser to describe people, animals or objects. You can also use ser to describe ideas and emotions.

  • La casa de mis padres es grande. (My parents’ house is big.)
  • Tú eres católico. (You are Catholic.)  
  • Ella es española. (She is Spanish.)
  • Tu idea es buena. (Your idea is good)
  • El amor es sufrido. (Love is suffered.)

Use Ser for Professions or Occupations

To refer to what a person does for a living, use the verb ser. Oh! And in Spanish, you don’t have to use “un” or “una” to talk about occupations.

  • Yo soy desarrollador web. (I am a web developer.)
  • Mis padres son negociantes. (My parents are business people.)
  • La mamá de mi mejor amiga es abogada. (My best friend’s mom is a lawyer.)
  • Nosotros somos blogueros. (We are bloggers.)
  • Ellos son anestesistas. (They are anesthetists.)

Use Ser for Relationships

Use ser to talk about the way you are related to someone else.

  • Karen y yo somos hermanas. (Karen and I are sisters.)
  • Ellos son los padres de Roberto. (They are Roberto’s parents.)
  • Él es mi esposo. (He is my husband.)
  • Ella es mi abuela. (She is my grandmother.)
  • Sara es mi tía. (Sara is my aunt.)

Use Ser for Ownership

When you use ser to express that something belongs to you, you also need to use the preposition “de”.

  • Esa es la computadora de Ariel. (That is Ariel’s computer.)
  • Este es el libro de mi profesor. (This is my teacher’s book.)
  • Esos carros son tuyos. (Those cars are yours.)
  • Esta casa es de ellos. (This house is theirs.)
  • Este reloj es mío. (This clock is mine.)

Use Ser to Say Where an Event Takes Place

The verb ser can also mean “take place”. Spanish speakers use ser to talk about the place in which an event took, takes or will take place.

  • La reunión fue en el salón principal. (The meeting took place in the main hall.)
  • La fiesta es en la casa de Estela. (The party will take place at Estela’s house.)
  • El concierto será en el teatro. (The concert will take place in the theater.)
  • La boda es en la iglesia. (The wedding will take place in the church.)
  • El seminario será en la escuela. (The seminar will take place at school.)

Use Ser to Express Time

Spanish speakers use two forms of ser to talk about time. Be careful with “es” y “son”. You’ll use “es” when you talk about one o’clock. Use “son” to talk about the hours from two to twelve.

  • ¿Qué horas son? (What time is it?)
  • Es la una de la tarde. (It’s one in the afternoon.)
  • Es la una de la mañana. (It’s one in the morning.)
  • Son las tres y media. (It’s half past three.)
  • Son las cuatro en punto. (It’s four o’clock.)

Use Ser to Describe the Weather of a Place

Use ser to describe the weather of a place as a permanent trait. If someone says: “Alaska es helado”, it means that Alaska is known to be a cold place.

  • Nicaragua es caliente. (Nicaragua is known to be a hot place.)
  • Suecia es helado. (Sweden is known to be a cold place.)

Different Uses of Estar

In Spanish, estar is used to express health, mood, location, ongoing actions or opinion in terms of taste and appearance.

Use Estar to Express Health

Spanish speakers use estar to express a temporary physical condition.

  • Estoy bien. (I am well.)
  • ¿Cómo estás?  (How are you?)
  • Ellos están enfermos. (They are sick.)
  • Estamos sanos. (We are healthy.)
  • Estoy mareado. (I am dizzy.)

Use Estar to Express Mood

Estar is used to express how a person feels at a specific moment.

  • Él está feliz. (He’s happy.)
  • Los hombres están muy cansados. (The men are very tired.)
  • ¿Estas molesto conmigo? (Are you mad at me?)
  • Ella está contenta. (She is happy.)
  • Los niños están hambrientos. (The children are hungry.)

Use Estar for Locations

To express where someone or something is located at a certain moment use estar.

  • ¿Dónde estás? (Where are you?)
  • Estoy en casa. (I am home.)
  • Ellos están en el restaurante. (They are in the restaurant.)
  • Nosotros estamos en el salón de clase. (We are in the classroom.)
  • Carlos está en el carro. (Carlos is in the car.)

Use Estar for Ongoing Actions

The verb estar is always used to express continuous actions in Spanish. To express progressive actions, you’ll need to use estar and a Spanish present participle.

  • Estoy trabajando. (I am working.)
  • Jessica está estudiando español. (Jessica is studying Spanish.)
  • Tere está haciendo ejercicio. (Tere is working out.)
  • Los niños están llorando. (The children are crying.)
  • Estás siendo dramático. (You are being dramatic.)

Use Estar to Describe Food and Appearance  

When you use estar to express an opinion about food, it means taste. When you use estar to express an opinion about appearance, it means look. Let’s see!

  • Esta comida está muy buena. (The food tastes good.)
  • Estás muy bonita esta noche. (You look beautiful tonight.)
  • Él está guapo. (He looks good.)
  • El estofado está muy rico. (The stew is delicious.)
  • Las galletas están crujientes. (The cookies are crunchy.)

Use Estar to Describe Changing Weather 

When you want to express what the weather is like at a specific moment, use estar. These are some common expressions with estar. 

  • Está nublado. (It is cloudy.)
  • Está despejado. (It is clear.)
  • Está caliente. (It is hot.)
  • Está helado. (It is cold.)
  • Está húmedo. (It is humid.)
  • Está lloviendo. (It is raining.)
  • Está nevando. (It is snowing.)

Different Meanings with Ser and Estar

As you know, you can use ser and estar to make descriptions. Be careful with the verb you use to make a description. The meaning of your description can change depending on the verb you use.

  • Tú eres bonita. (You are beautiful, and I always think you are beautiful.)
  • Tú estás bonita. (You look beautiful, and I don’t always think so.)

Here’s a tip! When describing people, if you are talking about what someone is like, use ser. If you talk about the way someone feels or acts, use estar.

  • Él es aburrido. (He is boring.)
  • Él está aburrido. (He is bored.)

Ser and Estar Practice

Now you know when to use ser and estar in Spanish! Clozemaster can help you memorize the uses of these challenging Spanish verbs in a fun way – check it out!

1 thought on “Difference Between Ser and Estar in Spanish: A Simple Guide”

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