Skip directly to content

Uses of Ser and Estar

In Spanish, there are two main verbs that express "to be": ser and estar. Each verb has specific uses within the language and the uses cannot be interchanged.  The spelling of ser and estar changes depending on the subject.

Ser

Estar

English

Yo soy

Yo estoy

I am

eres

estás

you are

Él/ella/usted es

Él/ella/usted está

He/she is

Ellos/ellas/ustedes son

Ellos/ellas/ustedes están

They are

Nosotros somos

Nosotros estamos

We are

 

1.  Ser

Ser is used to express the inherent nature of a person or thing. Here are some rules:

  • To be + adjectiveexpresses essential characteristics of people or things (i.e., physical descriptions).

Spanish

English

La estudiante es bonita.

The student is pretty.

El profesor es viejo.

The professor is old.

  • To be + of/fromexpresses possession, origin, or material.  "Of/from" are translated to "de" in Spanish.

Spanish

English

Las pinturas son de Maria.

The paintings are Maria’s.

George es deGuatemala.

George is from Guatemala.

La mesa es de madera.

The table is wood.

  • To be + forexpresses destination or the expiration date. "For" is translated to "por" or "para" in Spanish.

Spanish

English

La tarea es para mañana.

The homework is for tomorrow.

  • To be + noun or pronounexpresses identity between the subject and the noun or pronoun, profession.

Spanish

English

Ella es una maestra.

She is a tutor.

Esun perro.

It is a dog.

  • To be + the existence of temporary activities or events.

Spanish

English

La reunión es en el café.

The meeting is at the cafe.

  • To be + the day, the date, the time, and seasons.

Spanish

English

Hoy es lunes.

Today is Monday.

Sonlas once y media.

It is 11:30.

 

2.  Estar

Estar is used to express the temporary nature of a person or thing. Here are some rules:

  • To be + adjectiveexpresses changing conditions and appearance of people or things.

Spanish

English

Las maestras están enfermas.

The tutors are sick.

La estudiante está bonita.

The student is pretty right now.

  • To be + expresses the location of people or things.

Spanish

English

Mi hermano está en la escuela.

My brother is in school.

Elavión está en Guatemala.

The plane is in the Guatemala.

  • To be + adverb expresses the temporary quality or state of an emotion or activity.

Spanish

English

Estábien

Everything is well.

  • Estar + para + infinitive is equivalent to "to be about to".

Spanish

English

Estoypara salir.

I am about to go out.

En este momento está para llover.

In this moment it is about to rain.