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Talk Like a Native: Ser vs. Estar

by Cynthia Lopez

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM.

In today's blog post you'll learn the difference between "ser" and "estar." Both mean "to be," but they are used in different situations.

Ser and estar both mean to be, and many people learning Spanish always have trouble figuring out when to use ser and when to use estar. So if you’re one of those people, make sure to keep on reading because today I’ll talk about the different situations in which you can use ser and estar.

Ser is used in more permanent situations. It’s used when talking about descriptions of yourself or others, such as your personality, appearance or where you come from. You can also use ser when talking about things that take place or occur in a certain time, such as dates, seasons or times of certain events. Lastly, ser can also be used when talking about possessions, such as when referring to something belongs to you or someone else.

Here are some examples of when to use ser:
Ella es muy amable.                                         She's very nice.
Soy de Los Estados Unidos.                               I'm from the United States.
La fiesta es a las 10:30.                                    The party is at 10:30.
Mañana es primavera.                                       Tomorrow is Spring.
La pluma es mía.                                              The pen is mine.

Estar is used in less permanent situations. It’s used when talking about a state of being. Estar can be used when talking an emotional or physical state of being, such as when talking about someone’s feelings, their mood or physical condition. Estar is also used when talking about where someone is placed,such as their location. It can be used when talking about the location of people and things, but not events. Lastly, estar can be used when talking about motion; this is usually when one uses the present progressive tense or the “ing” form.

Here are some examples of when to use estar:
Estoy cansado.                                                   I'm tired.
¿Estás enfermo?                                                 Are you sick?
Está enjada.                                                       She is angry.
Ricardo está en la casa de mi tia.                         Richard is at my aunt's house.
Estoy haciendo mi tarea.                                     I'm doing my homework.

Thanks for reading! Hope this has helped you understand when to use ser and when to use estar. Please feel free to leave comments or questions. 

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