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Spanish languageTo Be - Ser and Estar

There are two Spanish verbs that mean to be.* Each of these verbs is used to express a different type of being - they are not interchangeable.

SER

Present tense:

yo soy    nosotros somos
eres vosotros sois
él, ella, Ud. es ellos, ellas, Uds. son

All tenses

Ser is used to describe permanent or long-term attributes like

  • origin
  • nationality
  • what something is made of
  • physical characteristics
  • personality
  • religion
  • relationships
  • professions
Soy de España. I'm from Spain.
¿Eres francés? Are you French?
La casa es de adobe. The house is made of adobe.
Somos grandes. We are tall.
¡Sois inteligentes! You guys are smart!
¿Son católicos? Are they Catholic?
Soy la esposa de Juan. I'm Juan's wife.
¿Eres profesor? Are you a teacher?

  
ESTAR

Present tense:

yo estoy    nosotros estamos
estás vosotros estáis
él, ella, Ud. está ellos, Ud. están

All tenses

Estar is used to describe the current state of a noun - temporary, changeable attributes like

  • location**
  • attitude
  • mental / physical state
Estoy en Marruecos. I'm in Morocco.
San José está en Costa Rica.** San José is in Costa Rica.
¿Estás enfrente de la casa? Are you in front of the house?
¡Está contento hoy! He's happy today!
¿Cómo estáis? How are you?
Estámos enfermos. We're sick.

*Note: There are a number of idiomatic expressions in which the verb tener means to be.

** In the second example, estar is used even though the location of San José will never change. For locations, whether temporary or permanent, estar is always the verb to use.

Test on Ser + Estar   Advanced lesson: Ser vs Estar

Expressions with Estar     Expressions with Ser

Estar conjugations     Ser conjugations

Most Common Spanish Verbs

 

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