este, esta, estan, estar. I am trying to learn Spanish but one of my biggest hang up is the words above. It appears to me some forum of these words appear in every Spanish sentence, I just can’t grasp when to use which one for what? Is there an easy way to learn this? I am learning from Rosetta Stone. Although a lot of words of what things are I am having trouble putting together my own sentences. ééé

  • Posted Jun 14, 2010
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3 Answers



You are correct to be confused. Since the R A E has recently changed it rules on the use of diacritical accent marks the meaning/part of speech of these words must be taken from context.

este [éste]=it can mean this (demonstrative adjective) or this one (demonstrative pronoun) when referring to masculine objects (este libro=this book) (deme este. Give me this one.)

esta/ésta=same argument, but referring to feminine objects

estar=to be

están= they are ( 3rd person, plural, present tense, indicative mood)

You didn't mention these:

está=he/she/it is (3rd person, singular, present tense, indicative mood)

está=2nd person formal, singular (usted)=you are


esté=he/ she/it is (3rd person, singular, present tense, subjunctive mood)

esté=2nd person, formal, singular (usted)=you are

As you can see, the placement of the accent mark is critical to the meaning of the word. There is no word estan. It is están.

  • Great explanation! - Pajaro44 Jun 14, 2010


Hi, Benton. Este and esta both mean 'this'. Este is for masculine nouns and esta is for feminine nouns. Estar is a verb that means 'to be'. Están is a form of that verb--the third person present indicative. That is, it means 'they are'. Esté, which you mention in your title but not in the body of your question is another form of the verb estar, which you probably won't really study for a while. It is both the first and third person of the subjunctive mode, which is used (to put it wildly inadequately and broadly) to involve doubt in a clause. This is the downside to Rosetta Stone. In my very unprofessional opinion, it does not appear to me to have an effective way of teaching basic verb forms to beginners. Something that might help you is our verb conjugation tool, which you can reach here. Just type in the verb you want in the infinitive form (when it ends -ar, -er, or -ir) and it will give you a big chart of all its different forms and when to use them.



and the cardinal direction: este

  • Aug 13, 2013
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