The Ultimate Guide About Ser & Estar

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‘Ser’ and ‘estar’ are not the same verb and is difficult to see these differences if you are not a Spanish speaker. Check out some easy tips with iScribo.

Today we bring you an article about one of the most basic parts of Spanish grammar – the verbs ‘ser’ and ‘estar’.

‘Ser’ and ‘Estar’ conjugations can be tricky. Do you often get confused with these two verbs? Don’t worry, today we help you to differentiate them by means of some easy-to-remember rules so that you don’t have any doubts when using them.

Quality or state?

Ser is used to express the permanent quality of something and estar is used to express some temporary state:

Eres inteligente. (You are smart.)

Estoy en el supermercado. (I’m in the supermarket.)

To talk about a person’s character in general, use ser. For a temporary state of mind use estar.

Marcos es alto. (Marcos is tall.)

Marcos está simpático hoy. (Marcos is nice today.)

To talk about the place you come from use ser and to talk about the place you visit use estar:

Son de Perú. (They are from Peru.)

Estáis en Perú. (You are in Peru.)

Main uses of the verb ser

1. To express the place where a person comes from, as well as the nationality, or the material of an object:

¿Eres de Madeira, Portugal? (Are you from Madeira, Portugal?)

La botella es de vidrio. (The bottle is made of glass.)

2. To identify or define a person or an object:

Aquel chico es mi vecino. (That boy is my neighbour.)

La casa de Alberto es verde por fuera. (Alberto’s house is green on the outside.)

3. To express permanent qualities of a person or thing:

En nuestro grupo somos budistas. (In our group we are Buddhists.)

¿Vosotros sois de Argentina? (Are you from Argentina?)

4. To express profession:

Aún soy estudiante. (I am still a student.)

Los ponentes son farmacéuticos. (The speakers are pharmacists.)

5. To express possession:

Ese ordenador es de Pedro. (That computer belongs to Pedro.)

El coche que viene por allí es de Marta. (The car coming that way belongs to Marta.)

Main uses of the verb estar

1. To express actions that are taking place at the moment:

Papá está haciendo la cena. (Dad is making dinner.)

Carolina y Juan están en el cine. (Carolina and Juan are at the cinema.)

2. To express a temporary state:

No te acerques mucho que estoy resfriada. (Don’t come too close, I have a cold.)

La sopa está muy fría. (The soup is very cold.)

3. To express emotions:

Estamos encantados con la casa nueva. (We are delighted with the new house.)

¿También estáis cansados? (Are you tired too?)

4. To say whether a person, plant or animal is alive or not:

La avista está viva. (The wasp is alive.)

Los animales están muertos por culpa del incendio. (The animals are dead because of the fire.)

5. To express a temporal location:

Martín está en el autobús. (Martin is on the bus.)

Estamos en la fiesta del verano. (We are at the summer party.)

Listen and practise

You will undoubtedly find that reading, speaking, writing, and listening are keys to understanding the difference between the verbs ‘ser’ and ‘estar’.

Remember that, if you have doubts when it comes to writing, iScribo helps you to make the right decision.

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