Is there any easy way to remember when to use "Ser" and when to use "Estar"? I always mix them up.
Twinkle twinkle, little ESTAR
How you feel and where you are
What you're doing currently
Don't use "ser", that's the permanent "be"
Twinkle, twinkle, little ESTAR
How you feel and where you are.
If you remember that little song (or even just the part that repeats), you will probably remember that "estar" is like the "temporary" one and "ser" is like the permanent one.
I also suggest that you listen to Paralee's lesson on Ser v Estar Lesson 1:11 ;-
I have provided you with a link to the lesson below my comments
Paralee gives you some guidelines and hints in the lesson on how to remember when to use Ser or Estar. They are only guidelines not rules and with practice time and experience you should be able to develop a feel for when to use Ser or Estar This is how most native speakers learn:from experience not by memorising a set of rules.
After this if it is still not clear you can read-up about it following Lorenzo's link in his post/answer here
Link to Paralee's lesson: 1:11: link text
I hope this helps
Learning rules is fine, but the only way that you are truly going to get a feel for the language (in terms of when it is appropriate to use each) is to expose yourself to a sufficient amount of written and auditory material. This means listening to and reading copious amounts of 'in-context' Spanish. Eventually, if you stick with it, you will begin to get a 'feel' for what sounds right in various contexts.
As far as rules go, I would definitely recommend you at least familiarize yourself with the reference article written by Lazarus (see Lorenzo's link above). The C.I.D. method is certainly superior to other pseudo rules that I have encountered in studying Spanish.
Along these same lines, there is a book which follows a similar train of thought regarding the use of the two verbs and also maintains that when choosing between which verb to use with certain adjectives, it often comes down to a question of "Whatness" vs. "Howness." The title of the book is Spanish Verbs: Ser and Estar Key to Mastering the Language by Juan and Susan Serrano, and in my opinion it is well worth looking into.
In any case, rules will only get you so far. To truly master these concepts, again, is going to require that you digest a tremendous amount of material. If this seems daunting, just remember the old adage that Rome wasn't built in a day, and little by little and with practice, each day we move closer to our goals. Best of luck in your learning endeavors.
I use DOCTOR and PLACES to help my students remember when to use each one.
For SER: DOCTOR
D- descripción/description Ud. es alto. O- origen Ella es de Peru. C- características Yo soy guapa. T- tiempo -time- hora Son las dos. O- ocupación Nosotros somos dentistas. R- relación Ella es la madre de Paco.
For ESTAR: PLACES
P- posición Está cerca de la puerta. L- Lugar Está en la Calle Elm. A- acción Estoy hablando español. C- condición Ella está enferma. E- emoción Estoy triste. S- Salud Nosotros estamos enfermos,
Hope this helps. (sorry for the lack of accents etc. I can't get them to work/insert today for some reason.)