Learning the correct use of ser and estar is an obstacle that all Spanish students face. We try to associate it to our native language but when we translate it, 99% of the times we use the wrong one. This is because in the majority of languages, the difference is ruled by strict grammatical principles. However, in Spanish following the grammar rules, not always brings you to the right path. One common sentence among Spanish students is “soy aburrido” (I’m boring) but what they actually want to say is “estoy aburrido” (I am bored). This is because in English the sentence uses the verb to be, while in Spanish the right verb is estar. So in order to avoid calling ourselves boring, let’s learn how to use these Spanish verbs in the right way!

The easiest way to differentiate ser and estar is to divide their use in different contexts. The first difference is that we use the verb ser when describing the qualities of someone or something. These attributes are permanent, as name, nationality, religion, physical traits, material (for objects).

For example:

-Ella es Sara

-Sara es Italiana

-Ella es budista

-Mi amiga Sara es rubia y alta

-Tu papá es muy joven.

-La mesa es de madera.

The verb ser is also used to describe personality: Tu esposa es una persona muy amable e inteligente y sus padres son muy simpáticos.

We also use the verb ser to define a person through his job or his hobby: Él es profesor de historia; Ella es una cantante famosa; ¿Tu eres estudiante?

Personal relation with someone: Ella es la hija del médico; Él es mi hermano.

Moreover, when talking about the price of something, ser is the right verb: ¿Cuanto es en total? Son 7,50 euros.

To express the belonging of someone or something to a place, we still use ser: Esta cartera es de Amparo; Esta camiseta es de China; Laura es de Granada.

Place and time of an event: La fiesta es mañana por la noche; El concierto de Madonna será en Madrid.


On the other side, we use the verb estar when:

We describe temporary qualities of someone/something or temporary phisics conditions:

Él está triste; Hoy estoy enferma; En estos días mi hermana está muy ocupada.

Temporary circumstances:

Hasta el lunes estoy de vacaciones; Mi prima está emabarazada.

Locate something/someone in a place:

Ayer estuve todo el día en casa; El bolso está en el segundo cajón del armario.

As an auxiliar, estar is used to express present/past continuous: ¿Que estás haciendo? Estoy leyendo en el parque/Estoy almorzando/Estoy escuchando musica; El otro día cuando llamaste, estaba en la ducha.

We hope we cleared your mind with our article, however, the best way to get better with the use of these Spanish verbs, is to talk as much as possible with Spanish native speakers. So don’t give up and keep studying Spanish!


You might be interested in Differences Between Coger and Tomar.


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