The difference between ESTAR and SER

Many Spanish students get confused about when to use ‘ser’ or ‘estar’ which both mean ‘to be.’

To be or not to be, that is the question, and one which we hope to answer in today’s blog!


Ser is one of the most frequently used verbs in Spanish, and also an irregular one. The present tense conjugation is:

Yo soy
él/ella/usted es
Nostros/nostras somos
Vostros/vostras sois
Ellos/ellas/ustedes son

We use ser when referring to a permanent state. Below is a list of descriptions that are expected to be permanent:Ribbet collage


When you are talking about a state that is not permanent, you use the verb estar:

Yo estoy
él/ella/usted está
Nostros/nostras estamos
Vostros/vostras estáis
Ellos/ellas/ustedes están

Below is a list of descriptions that are not expected to be permanent:

Physical conditions e.g. clean/dirty/full/empty

Mental or emotional feelings e.g. sad/happy/angry/tired

But watch out, there are exceptions to estar! DO NOT use estar to describe feeling hungry, thirsty, hot, or cold, however. Instead, you will use the verb tener (to have)

Test Yourself! – Fill in the blanks with the right conjugation of either ser or estar:

_____ mujer (I am a woman)

____ muy bella (You are very beautiful)

____ muy alegre (I am very happy)

____ de aquí (We are from here)

Cómo ____? (How are you?)

Carmen ____ enferma (Carmen is sick)

____ las ocho y media (It is eight thirty)


Soy mujer

Eres muy bella

Yo estoy muy alegre

Nostros somos de aquí

Cómo estás?

Carmen está enferma

Son las ocho y media

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