How do you tell apart ser and estar?

How do you tell apart ser and estar?


I need to know exactly how to define each from the other one.

updated SEP 23, 2009
posted by judimarie

3 Answers


Well, my Spanish teacher last year told us:

Estar = LOCO (location and condition)

Ser = CORNDDT (charateristics, origin, relationship, nationality, day, date, time)

This year we learned there are ten ser usages, and 18 estar usages, but I don't really want to post 30 different distictions between ser and estar. ¡Espero que sea gran ayuda! Y ¡Buena suerte!

updated SEP 23, 2009
edited by june10
posted by june10

You can also keep in mind:

Ser - typically indicates "to be" that is a permanent state of being, as in DOCTOR: Description, Occupation, Characteristic, Time, Origin, Relationship.

Estar - typically indicates "to be" that is a changing state of being, as in PLACE: Position, Location, Action, Condition, Emotion

More than anything I think perfecting these verbs comes with practice. I hope, anyway!

¡Buena suerte!

updated SEP 23, 2009
posted by beesknees79

Last week a friends daughter (who is in a Spanish class in school) asked me when is "ser" used and when is "estar' used. This is a big "bug-a-boo" for us beginner's. I gave her a list of example sentences. I also tried to explain the "CID" rule that Lazarus provided me on one of my posts here on the fourm (his "CID Rule" may be here in the Reference Section at SpanishDict. -- if not it should be!). She showed her teacher, and the teacher made copies for the class -- so I guess these sentences passed the smell test.

This is "Lazarus" CID Rule:

SER is used to classify, identify and define.

ESTAR is used for situations (i.e. things located in time or space).

This is so far the most accurate rule you can get if you don't want to memorize pages of rules.

So I thought I would share these with my fellow beginning Spanish students here at SpanishDict. I put these sentences together not to learn how to conjugate "ser" and "estar" -- you already need to know how to conjugate these -- but when to use "ser" and when to use "estar".

Ser and Estar:

Tiene que estar centrado. (It has to be centered.)

Estoy ocupada. Ya comencé. (I am busy. I already started.)

Creo que será imposible. (I think that it will be impossible.)

Sería lindo. (She would be lovely.)

¿Qué están haciendo aquí? (What are they doing here?)

Eres la mejor ex-esposa del mundo. (You are the best ex-wife in the world.)

Mientras todos están buscando aquí, las gemas estarán acá. (While everyone is looking here, the gems will be over here.)

No estaría completo sin ti. (I would not be complete without you.)

¿Estabas bebiendo? Estaba en un bar, Eric. (You were drinking? I was in a bar, Eric.)

eres el aprendiz. (You are a trainee (apprentice).)

...ex actriz Susan Malloy fue asesinada mientras Brad estaba allá, hablando con la prensa. (...ex-actress Susan Malloy was murdered while Brad was there, talking with the press.)

Ella estaba haciendo ejercicio. (She was exercising.)

¿Me estás tomando el pelo o qué? (You are pulling my hair(leg) or what?

Estabamos en cobertura en vivo..... (We were live coverage .....)

Era perfecto. (I/she/he/it was perfect.)

Ahora estoy impresionado. (Now I am impressed.)

Es un gran cumplido viniendo de usted. (It's a great compliment coming from you.)

Ahí está. (Over there it is.)

Es un programa de television. (It is a televison program.)

Ella no está bien de la cabeza. (She is not well in the head.)

El jefe pensó que yo era más listo que él. (The boss thought that I was more ready than he.)

Será como en los viejos tiempo. (It will be like the old times.)

Entonces, ¿estaban divorciados? (Than, you were divorced?) - "you" is plural

Entiendo que el Sr. Terry estuvo aquí la semana pasada. (I understand that Mr. Terry he was here last week.)

Digo que este actor podría ser un asesino. (I say that this actor could be a murderer.)

Son ricas y corruptas. (They are rich and corrupt.)

Será mejor que traiga troncos más grandes. (You will be better off to bring much bigger trunks.) -- You = Usted

Bueno, estás equivocado. (Well, you are wrong.)

Freddy, cuando yo era joven, fui esculto, pintor y músico. (Freddy when you were young, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician.)

Amigos, fue un mes exelente. (Friends, it was a excellent month.)

Bien, todos estos vinos son muy viejos. (Fine, all these wines are very old.)

Eso está en Grecia. (That is in Greece.)

Los noticieros locales lo han estado transmitiendo todo el día. (The local news they have been broadcasting all day.)

Ha estado trabajando en este invento por años. (I have been working on this invention for years.)

Estuve bajo el agua por mucho tiempo. (I was under the water for a long time.)

Abuelita dijo que se sentía como si fuese Ricitos de Oro en "Los Tres Osos",. (Grandma said she felt as if she was Goldilocks in the "There Bears".)

updated SEP 23, 2009
posted by Daniel
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