Difference Between Ser and Estar

In this lesson you are going to learn the difference between ser and estar in Spanish.

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Ser and estar can both be translated as “to be”

In Spanish, a different verb is used to express “to be” depending on whether the speaker intends to address a condition or an essential quality.


Subject – Estar – Ser (to be)

Yo (I) – estoy soy

Tú (You)(Informal) – estás eres

Usted (You)(Formal) – está es

Él/Ella(He/She) – está es

Nosotros(as)(We) – estamos somos

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal) – estáis sois

Ustedes(You)(Formal) – están son

Ellos(as)(They) – están son


When to Use Estar in Spanish?

ser estar in spanish verb

Estar (To Be)


1- To address condition, use “estar”. “Estar” is an irregular verb. 


El plátano está verde – The banana is green (condition)

La sopa está caliente – The soup is hot (condition)

Ella está enferma – She is sick (condition)


2- If you are talking about how something is, use “estar”


Question: ¿Cómo está él? – How is he?

Answer:    Él está enojado – He is mad


Note: “Estar” is used to express geographic or physical locations.


Question: ¿Dónde estás? – Where are you?

Estoy en el trabajo.-  I’m at work

Question:¿Dónde está mi llave? – Where’s my key?

Answer: La llave
está en tu cuarto – The key is in your bedroom

Tip: The one exception to this rule is that ser” is used to tell where an event is taking place. (La fiesta es en mi casa. – The party is at my house)


Note: “Estar” is used with adjectives to express a state or condition (“how” something is).

Question:¿Cómo está el agua? – How’s the water?

Answer: El agua 
está fría. – The water is cold.

Question:¿Cómo estás tú? – How are you?

Estoy muy bien, gracias.-  I am very well, thanks.

Note: “Estar” is used with many idiomatic expressions.

estar de acuerdo- to be in agreement

estar de pie- to be standing

estar en camino- to be on the way

estar en las nubes – to be daydream


Note: “Estar” is used with the Progressive Tenses

Question:¿Qué estás haciendo? – What are you doing?

Answer: Estoy estudiando Español  – I am studying Spanish


When to Use Ser in Spanish?

learn spanish ser estar spanish verb

Ser (To Be)


1- To address an essential quality, use “ser”. “Ser” is also irregular.


El plátano es verde – The banana is green (quality)

El colchón es suave – The mattress is soft (quality)


2- If you are talking about what something is, use “ser”.


Question: ¿Qué es ella? -What is she?

Answer: Ella es una profesora – She is a teacher

Note: “Ser” is used to express the hour, day, and date.


Question:  ¿Qué hora es? – What time is it?

Answer:   Son las dos. – It’s two o’clock.

Question: ¿Qué día es hoy? – What day is today?

Answer:   Hoy es Martes. – Today’s Tuesday.

Question: ¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy?- What’s today’s date?

Answer: Es el treinta de mayo.-  It’s May 30.


Note: “Ser” is used to express place of origin.


Question: ¿De dónde eres tú? – Where are you from?

Soy de Colombia. – I’m from Colombia.

Note: “Ser” is used to express occupation.

Question: ¿Cuál es tu trabajo? – What is your job?

Answer: Soy ingeniero – I’m an engineer

Note: “Ser” is used to express nationality.

Question: ¿Es ella cubana? – Is she Cuban?

Answer: Sí, ella es cubana – Yes, she’s Cuban.

Note: “Ser” is used to express religious or political affiliation.

Ellos son comunistas – They are communists

Es el gobierno Socialista – It’s the Socialist government

Nosotros somos cristianos – We are christians

El sistema es Capitalista – The system is Capitalist


Note: “Ser” is used to express the material something is made of.

Eso es de cemento – That is (made of) cement

Las mesas son de madera – The tables are (made of) wood


Note: “Ser” is used to express possession.

Question: ¿De quién es el libro?- Whose book is it?

Answer: Es de Carlos – It’s Carlos’s


Note: “Ser” is used to express the relationship of one person to another.

Question:¿Quién es ella? – Who is she?

AnswerElla es la esposa de mi tío – She is my uncle’s wife


Note: “Ser” is used with certain impersonal expressions.

Es necesario que llegue temprano – It is necessary to arrive early

Es importante que practiques a diario – It is important that you practice daily


Note: “Ser” is used to tell where and when an event is taking place.

El cumpleaños es el sábado – The birthday is Saturday

El evento es el lunes en el teatro – The event is Monday at the theater

La reunión es en el trabajo – The meeting is at work


Note: “Ser” is used with adjectives to express inherent, or essential qualities.

María es inteligente – Maria is smart

Ustedes son muy rápidos – You (all) are very fast

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