Ser vs Estar

Ser vs Estar? One of the most important rules to learn when you are learning Spanish. It can even often prevent you from making a fool out of yourself! Let’s take a look at what Ser and Estar actually means and than look at a simple overview of how to use them correctly:

What does Ser and Estar mean?

That is a very simple questions. Both of the verbs could directly be translated in English as: To be.

Both are irregular verbs and you can use them in the present tense as follows:


Yo soy – I am
Tú eres – You are
Él/ella/usted es – He/She is
Nosotros somos – We are
Vosotros sois – They are
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes son – They are


Yo estoy – I am
Tú estás – You are
Él/ella/usted está – He/She is
Nosotros estamos – We are
Vosotros estáis – They are
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes están – They are

The most basic rule to understand about the difference between Ser and Estar is:

SER is used when we talk about something permanent.

ESTAR is used when we talk about something temporary.

Tip: If you can add the word “currently” before the verb, you use estar.

Knowing that one is used when something is permanent and the other is used when talking about something is temporary you can now understand what the impact on your sentence can be. Let’s take a look at some examples:

You are beautiful – Tu estás bonita. What! I look beautiful now, but normally not? It is wiser to compliment a lady with Tu eres bonita.

This fish is expensive – Este pescado es caro. When you say this at the market you will tell the salesman his fish is always expensive. If you were to say Este pescado está caro, you are saying his fish is expensive today, normally not.

You are drunk – Estás borracho. Good! You are saying to someone he is drunk. Imagine you would say Eres borracho… you are saying that person is an alcoholic!

As you understand. Ser vs Esta could make a world of difference. But of course as everything with Spanish: There is always an exception and in this case there are a lot. Let’s have a look:

Ser vs estar rules

How to use SER:

  • To describe something permanent.
  • To describe what something is.
  • When talking about someones profession.
  • To talk about origins.
  • To identify something.
  • When we talk about relationships.
  • When we talk about an event or meeting taking place.
  • When telling time.

How to use ESTAR:

  • To describe something temporary.
  • To describe how something is.
  • To talk about moods and emotions.
  • When talking about opinions.
  • When talking about locations (excl. events/meetings).
  • When we talk about health or sickness.

Why is it important you know the difference between SER and ESTAR?

The answer to this is very simple. Because using SER or ESTAR in a sentence could mean a world of difference on the context! We already gave a couple of examples above, but let’s look at some more examples:

Está cansado – He/she is tiredEs cansado – He/she is a tiring person.
Estoy listo – I am readySoy listo – I am smart
Estoy morena – I am tannedSoy morena – I am brunette
Estamos loco – We are crazySomos loco – We are insane
Estoy bueno – I am healthySoy bueno – I am a good person

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