Unit 2.2

Differences between Ser and Estar

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Introduction

The verbs ser and estar are irregular verbs used to identify and locate people, things, and places.

The verb ser is used to describe permanent states.

The verb estar is used to indicate a transitory state.

Form

The verbs ser and estar are used with different categories of words.

Ser:

The verb ser is used:

Estar:

The verb estar is used:

The forms of ser and estar in the present indicative are:

Persona Ser Estar
Yo soy estoy
eres estás
Él/Ella/Usted es está
Nosotros/-as somos estamos
Vosotros/-as sois estáis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes son están

 

Example

Ser:

  • Esta es Sandra, la ingeniera;
  • Ese es el abogado del acusado;
  • Esas son alemanas;
  • Aquellos son azules y altos;
  • Son las tres de la tarde.

Estar:

  • La playa está siempre llena de gente;
  • La cena hace una hora que está lista;
  • Lo que hacen los doctores está bien;
  • Esos nunca están tristes;
  • Aquellas están en Madrid.

Use

The verbs ser and estar are used in different contexts:

  • the verb ser is used to:
    • identify (without an adjective);
    • describe the character and the physique of a person;
    • express nationalities, origins, professions, or ideology;
    • talk about colors and materials;
    • identify nouns with pronouns;
    • asking for the date and time (temporal location).
  • the verb estar is used to:
    • to express a temporary activity;
    • to talk of a transitory state of mind and physique;
    • to speak of the result of an action;
    • without an adjective when we want to locate and express where someone is (spatial location).

Summary

In Spanish ser and estar are irregular verbs used to make identifications. The main difference is that ser is used to indicate characteristics or permanent states, while estar refers to temporary states.

For example:
— «Ana es muy alta.» = A permanent characteristic;
— «Ana está muy cansada.» = A temporary state.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

Exercises


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