When to use Ser and estar

When to use Ser and Estar: The verb ” to be” in Spanish

Do you know when to use ser and estar in Spanish?

Many students have difficulty with the verb “to be” in Spanish. The reason for this isthat in Spanish “to be” can be expressed with two different verbs: “ser” and “estar”. So today we’re going to go through a few basic uses of “ser” and “estar” and the conjugation after which you can practise with some exercises.

When to use ser and estar

Situations in which ser is used

1.Names

To introduce ourselves.

When to use ser and estar
Soy LauraI am Laura

2.Descriptions

To describe physical features and personal characteristics.

María es morena
Cristina es simpática
María is dark-haired
Cristina is friendly

3.Occupations

This can refer to a profession or a hobby. In other words, we use “ser” to indicate how someone makes a living or spends their free time.

When to use ser and estar
Isabel es enfermeraIsabel is a nurse
Juan es policíaJuan is a police

4.Time

When referring to time, this includes days, dates, years and hours.

Hoy es 25 de febreroToday it is the 25th of February
Son las 8 y mediait’s half past eight.

5.Origin

When stating where a person, animal or objects is from.

When to use ser and estar
La pizza es italianaThe pizza is italian
Mario es portuguésMario is Portuguese

6. Relationships

For relatives, friends, partners etc…

When to use ser and estar
Victor es mi compañero de trabajoVictor is my colleague
Lola es mi hermanaLola is my sister

To resume…

When to user ser and estar

When to use ser and estar

Situations in which estar is used

1. Physical position or posture

When to use ser and estar
Juan está sentadoJuan is sitting down
Yo estoy tumbada en la camaI’m lying down on the sofa

2. Location (temporary, permanent or metaphorical)

when to use ser and estar
¿Dónde estás? Estoy en el cineWhere are you? I’m in the cinema
La farmacia está al lado de mi casaThe pharmacy is next to my house
María está en la lunaMaría is miles away, she’s got her head in the clouds

EXCEPTION: The location of events and celebrations is always described using the verb ser

La fiesta es en mi casaThe party is at my house
El concierto es en la plaza principalThe concert is in the main square

3. Actions

To describe actions happening in the present we use the structure estar+gerund.

Estoy mirando la televisión I am watching TV
Estamos hablando por teléfonoWe are talking on the phone

4. Conditions

We use “estar” to describe physical or emotional conditions or states.

When to use ser and estar
Estoy muy cansada hoyI’m very tired today
Miguel está enfermoMiguel is sick

5. Emotions

To describe how a person is feeling at a particular time.

María está muy felizMaría is very happy
Estoy un poco tristeI’m a little sad

To resume…

When to use ser and estar

Ser and estar: The conjugation

Ser and estar are irregular verbs. This means that they do not follow the nice, tidy conjugations you learned in the post: How to conjugate the present tense in Spanish (regular verbs) Therefore you must memorize their various forms.

When to use ser and estar

Now that you know the uses of “ser” and “estar” have a practice with this interactive exercise

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