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Ser Vs Estar 101: To Be In Spanish

What the heck is up with Spanish? There are two words to say “To understand” (Comprender and Entender), there are two words to say “To talk” (Hablar, Platicar), and many more duplicates like this! WTF, right?


The good news is, almost every word that has duplicates, while it may seem exactly the same, there are usually different connotations attached to these words. In this article, let’s talk about the difference between Ser and Estar, how to use them, and what they look like in sentences.


Are you ready to level up your Spanish? ¡Vamos! (Let’s go!)


a young boy cartoon with a title that says "Ser Vs Estar in Spanish"


What’s The Main Difference? | Ser And Estar

Ser is for who you are deep down, like your nationality or professional occupation. Whereas Estar covers how you feel or where you are right now. Easy peasy, right?


Here’s an ever more simple explanation: Ser = Permanent/Semi-permanent things | Estar = Temporary things



Ser: Used For That Which Is More Or Less "Permanent"

Imagine Ser as the spotlight on the stage of identity. This verb is all about inherent characteristics that define who or what something is.


It's like your DNA, unchanging and fundamental. Use Ser to describe nationality, professions, permanent physical traits, and essential qualities.



Examples:

Soy de México. (I am from Mexico.) - Nationality

Ella es doctora. (She is a doctor.) - Profession

Los ojos azules son herencia familiar. (Blue eyes are a family trait.) - Essential quality



Estar: Used For That Which Is Temporary

Now, meet Estar, the versatile performer in the Spanish verb repertoire. Unlike its steadfast counterpart Ser, Estar is all about the here and now.


This verb describes temporary states such as emotions, locations, and conditions that can change over time.


Examples:

Hoy estoy cansado. (Today I am tired.) - Temporary state

El perro está en el parque. (The dog is in the park.) - Location

Estamos muy emocionados por el concierto. (We are very excited for the concert.) - Emotion


So, how do I know whether to use Ser or Estar?

While you will have to get used to having two words which mean "To be," with enough exposure to the language this concept will become easier and almost intuitive. However, here are two acronyms that you can use to remember which "To be" to use.



To remember the uses of SER- think “DOCTOR”

  • D - Description

  • O - Occupation

  • C - Characteristic

  • T - Time

  • O - Origin

  • R - Relationship


To remember the uses of ESTAR - think “PLACE”

  • P - Position

  • L - Location

  • A - Action

  • C - Condition

  • E - Emotion


Ser: Uses & Examples

Now let's go over some examples that show the "permanent to semi-permanent" qualities that require the use of Ser to describe. ¿Listo/a? Vamos (Ready? Let's go)


Says "Uses of ser" and gives examples of SER being used in Spanish

Descriptions

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Este gato es muy gordo

This cat is very fat

Tu casa es súper grande

Your house is super big

Mi hijo es bajito

My son is short

Mi carro es rojo

My car is red

Su computadora es buena

His computer is good


Occupations

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Soy doctor

I am a doctor

Soy profesor

I am a professor

Eres enfermera

You are a nurse

Ella es vendedora

She is a saleswoman

Él es psicólogo

He is a psychologist



Time

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Ya son las tres

It’s three o’clock now

Son las siete y media

It’s 7:30

Nos veremos a las cinco

We’ll see each other at 5

Te ví en el supermercado anoche a las ocho

I saw you in the market last night at 8

¿Ya son las cuatro?

Is it 4 yet?



Origin

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Soy de Madrid

I’m from Madrid

Eres de Italia

You are from Italy

Ella es de aquí

She’s from here

Soy de Argentina

I’m from Argentina

Ellos son de Los Estados Unidos

They are from the USA



Relationships

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Ella es mi hermana

She's my sister

Yo soy tu padre

I am your father

Él es mi primo

He is my cousin

Esa es mi familia

That's my family

Ellos son mis hermanos

They’re my siblings



Estar: Uses & Examples

Now let's go over some examples of how we should use "Estar," remember, this word is supposed to be used for temporary conditions, including: Location, Feelings and emotions, and actions that are being done at any given moment.


Says "Uses of Estar" and gives examples of Estar being used in Spanish

Location

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Yo estoy en el estacionamiento

I’m in the parking lot

Ella está en la casa

She’s at home

Yo quiero estar en Madrid

I want to go to Madrid

Él está en el trabajo

He’s at work

Yo estoy enfrente del edificio

I am in front of the building


Temporary Conditions

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

El carro está sucio

The car is dirty

La casa está muy limpia

The house is very clean

Ella está cansada

She is tired

Él está borracho

He’s drunk

Él carro está estacionado por allí

The car is parked over there


Feelings & Emotions

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Ella está un poco triste

She’s a bit sad

Él está muy enojado

He’s really angry

Yo estoy feliz

I am happy

Tú estás agotado, lo sé

You are exhausted, I know

Ella está aburrida

She is bored



Action

Spanish Sentence

English Translation

Estoy pasando por tu casa ahora

I am going by your house right now

Ella está corriendo 2 horas por día

She’s running 2 hours a day

Él está cocinando en la casa

He’s cooking in the house

Tú estás conduciendo ahora mismo

You’re driving right now

Él está tratando de entender

He’s trying to understand


Conclusion: Ser Vs Estar: To Be In Spanish

Wrapping up the "Ser vs. Estar" puzzle, let's cut to the chase. Ser is your go-to for unchanging stuff like identity and profession. Estar steps in for temporary things like emotions and locations.


Use "DOCTOR" for "ser" and "PLACE" for "estar," and you're set to own the Spanish language! Time to flex your linguistic muscles! Adiós amigo/a, stay tuned for more language tips. 🌟

If you’re interested in learning “How To Say I Love You In Spanish” check out this article that will tell you everything there is to know!

Have a wonderful day/evening/night,

¡Hasta luego!


~ Ben


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