The use of ‘ser & estar’

(Using the special Spanish verbs ‘ser & estar’)

How do you use ‘ser’ and ‘estar’?

A difficulty for learners is that Spanish has two verbs for ‘to be’, which are ‘ser’ and ‘estar’. The major difference is that ser expresses unchanging or permanent things or states, whereas estar indicates changing or temporary ones. Compare the utilization in detail:

  • The verb ‘ser’ is used with the following:
    • When referring to a person, to the nationality, occupation, origins, religion, etc.:
      • Soy de Perú y soy secretaria.” (I am from Peru, and I am a secretary.)
      • “Carlos es español.” (Carlos is Spanish.)
    • For character traits and characteristics, such as appearance, hair color, size/height, etc.:
      • “Mercedes es alta y morena.” (Mercedes is tall and dark-haired.)
      • “Pedro es muy simpático.” (Pedro is charming.)
    • For hours, times of day, and seasons:
      • “Ya son las doce.” (It’s already twelve o’clock.)
      • Es todavía muy temprano.” (It is still very early.)
      • Es invierno.” (It is winter.)
    • To indicate possession:
      • “El móvil es de Juan.” (The mobile phone belongs to Juan.)
      • “El libro es mío.” (The book is mine.)
  • The verb ‘estar’ is used in these ways:
    • To express state and condition:
      • “La puerta está abierta.” (The door is open.)
      • “Yo estoy un poco cansado.” (I’m a little tired.)
    • For locations, in the sense of ‘is located’:
      • “Sonia y Pedro no están en casa.” (Sonia and Pedro are not home.)
      • “París está en Francia.” (Paris is in France.)

Further explanations referring to the ‘Use of ‘ser & estar’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Utilization of the Spanish verbs ‘ser’ and ‘estar’’ and may also help you:

  • Difference between ‘hay & está/están’
  • Specifying places with 'delante, detrás, debajo'