Spanish Verbs Ser & Estar Explained



Introduction

In English we can say “I am a student.”, “I am sick.”, or “I am here.” Or we can talk about other people and say, “He is a student.”, “She is sick.”, or “They are here.” We use is, am, or are for all kinds of situations.

In Spanish, however, we use two sets of verbs to express is, to express am, or to express are. The words we use depends entirely on the situations in which we use them. For example, we could say "The boy is" two different ways: Él chico es de México. (The boy is from Mexico.), or El chico está en México. (The boy is in México)

Actually, there are two totally different verbs which we use for is, am, and are. The infinitive form of each of these verbs means “to be”. These verbs are ESTAR and SER. To the English speaker it may seem unimportant which of these verbs is used. But it is very important to the Spanish-speaking person!

Remember: You can’t use one when you are supposed to use the other!


Present Indicative tense conjugation of ESTAR

1st person singular 1st person plural
2nd person singular 2nd person plural
3rd person singular 3rd person plural
Estar Conjugated In All Tenses

Present Indicative tense conjugation of SER

1st person singular 1st person plural
2nd person singular 2nd person plural
3rd person singular 3rd person plural
Ser Conjugated In All Tenses

When To Use ESTAR

In general, the verb ESTAR is used to describe temporary conditions and situations. It describes how or where something/someone is. Don’t forget the accent marks in estás, está, estáis, and están!


1. When talking about location.

English Spanish
I am here. Yo estoy aquí.
You are here. Tú estás aquí.
or
Usted está aquí.
She is here. Ella está aquí.
The city is in Spain. La ciudad está en España.
We aren’t home. Nosotros no estamos en casa.

2. When talking about health.

English Spanish
He is sick. Él está enfermo.
How are you? ¿Cómo está usted?
I’m fine. Yo estoy bien.
How is Mrs. Lopez? ¿Cómo está la Señora Lopez?

3. When greeting people.

English Spanish
How are you? ¿Cómo estás tú?
How are you all? ¿Cómo están ustedes?

4. When talking about moods, emotions and feelings.

English Spanish
I’m tired. Yo estoy cansado.
She is tired. Ella está cansada.
He is happy. Él está alegre.
They are in love. Ellos están enamorados.
We are worried. Nosotros estamos preocupados.

5. When speaking in the “progressive”.

English Spanish
I’m tired. Yo estoy cansado.
She is tired. Ella está cansada.
He is happy. Él está alegre.
They are in love. Ellos están enamorados.
We are worried. Nosotros estamos preocupados.


When To Use SER

In general, the verb SER is used to describe permanent conditions and situations. It describes what something/someone is or what something/someone is like.


1. When talking about where someone or something is from.

English Spanish
I’m from Illinois. Soy de Illinois.
The man is from Mexico. El hombre es de México.
The shirt is from Peru. La camisa es de El Perú.

2. When talking about what someone or something is.

English Spanish
Who is the girl? ¿Quién es la chica?
It is a pencil. Es un lápiz.
He is a man. Es un hombre. (Es hombre.)/td>

3. When talking about what someone or something is like.

English Spanish
What’s she like? ¿Cómo es ella?

4. When talking about someone’s occupation or profession.

English Spanish
She is a teacher. Ella es maestra.
We are students. Somos estudiantes

5. When talking about someone’s nationality.

English Spanish
They are Mexican. Son mexicanos.
I’m American. Soy norteamericano.

6. When talking about physical characteristics and abilities.

English Spanish
Robert is tall. Roberto es alto.
She is blonde. Ella es rubia.
They are short. Ellos son bajos.
The box is big. La caja es grande.
Adam is strong. Adán es fuerte.

7. When talking about someone’s personality and mental abilities.

English Spanish
Chuck is smart. Carlito es listo.
The boy is boring. El chico es aburrido.
Vanessa is fun. Vanessa es divertida.

8. When telling time.

English Spanish
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
It is 5:00. Son las cinco.
It is 1:10. Es la una y diez.

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