Many students have difficulty with the verb “to be” in Spanish. The reason for this is
that 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.
Situations in which ser is used
To introduce ourselves.
To describe physical features and personal characteristics.
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 referring to time, this includes days, dates, years and hours.
When stating where a person, animal or objects is from.
|La pizza es italiana||The pizza is italian|
|Mario es portugués||Mario is Portuguese|
For relatives, friends, partners etc…
|Victor es mi compañero de trabajo||Victor is my colleague|
|Lola es mi hermana||Lola is my sister|
Situations in which estar is used
1. Physical position or posture
|Juan está sentado||Juan is sitting down|
|Yo estoy tumbada en la cama||I’m lying down on the sofa|
2. Location (temporary, permanent or metaphorical)
|¿Dónde estás? Estoy en el cine||Where are you? I’m in the cinema|
|La farmacia está al lado de mi casa||The pharmacy is next to my house|
|María está en la luna||María 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 casa||The party is at my house|
|El concierto es en la plaza principal||The concert is in the main square|
To describe actions happening in the present we use the structure estar+gerund.
|Estoy mirando la televisión||I am watching TV|
|Estamos hablando por teléfono||We are talking on the phone|
We use “estar” to describe physical or emotional conditions or states.
|Estoy muy cansada hoy||I’m very tired today|
|Miguel está enfermo||Miguel is sick|
To describe how a person is feeling at a particular time.
|María está muy feliz||María is very happy|
|Estoy un poco triste||I’m a little sad|
Ser and estar: 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.
Now that you know the uses of “ser” and “estar” have a practice with this interactive exercise
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