HomeQ&AA Simple Outline on the uses of Ser and Estar.

A Simple Outline on the uses of Ser and Estar.


Hola, amigos.

Every now and then a question comes up on how to use “ser” and “estar.” So I thought I would write up this little article in the hope that some new learners (and maybe a few not-so-new learners) may benefit thereby.

SER. (1) The first use of “ser” is what is called “identity”. It’s like an = sign. Juan es un hombre, María es una mujer. ¿Qué es esto? Esto es un libro.

(2) The second use is for occupations. Yo soy profesora. Juan es estudiante.

(3) The third is characteristics. La puerta es grande. Mi familia es pequeña. Juan es alto. Maribel es inteligente. Las chicas españolas son muy guapas. smile

(4) The fourth use is to speak of origin.¿De dónde es Daniela? Daniela es de España. ¿De dónde es Ramón? Ramón es de Australia. It's also used for nationalities. Daniela es española. Amber es norteamericana.

(5) The fifth use is to show possession. It loosely translates the English word “belong/s” De quién es la bicicleta? “Es de Miguel” ¿De quiénes son los libros? “Son de los estudiantes”

I’ll give the English here,“To whom does the bike belong? It belongs to Mike” To whom do the books belong? They belong to the students.

(6) The sixth use is to tell what something is made of. Mi reloj es de plata. Mi lápiz es de Madera. Mi celular es de plástico y metal.

(7) The seventh use is time and date. Hoy es el 3 de octubre. Son las ocho de la noche.

(8) The eighth one is the trickiest. It is used to speak of the location of an EVENT. An event Is something that you can not touch. For example, a concert. You can touch the musicians, You can touch the instruments, you can even touch individual members of the audience. But you can’t touch a concert. That’s why we say, “ El concierto es en el parque. La clase de español es en la sala B-45. The verb “estar” is used for location of people places and things- but NOT for an event.


Estar is a lot different: It is actually easier.

(1) Use estar to speak of location of people, places and things. El profesor está en el laboratorio. El laboratorio está en la aula de ciencias. La universidad está en la ciudad de Madrid. La ciudad de Madrid está en el país de España.

(2) Use estar to speak of physical or mental health or conditions. This also included emotions.

María no viene a la escuela hoy. Está enferma. Su mamá está muy preocupada por ella. Estoy muy contenta hoy porque mi novio me viene a visitar. Carlos está triste porque su perro murió.

(3) Use estar to speak of conditions of people and things. When discussing “ser” I used the sentence “La puerta es grande” That spoke of a characteristic. If I say, “La puerta está abierta (o cerrada)” that is a condition. Pancho es el conductor del autobús. (occupation) Ahora está ocupado con los pasajeros. (condition.)

(4) Use estar to form the present progressive tense. Tengo hambre, estoy comiendo tacos. En la clase de español ahora estamos hablando español. El profesor García está dando una conferencia sobre la arquitectura azteca.

(5) Also use estar for certain weather expressions like “está lloviendo.” or “está nublado”

I think the list is fairly complete. If anybody can think of anything else. I’ll be happy to add it. ??


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updated Oct 4, 2017
edited by Daniela2041
posted by Daniela2041
Muchas gracias Daniela - porcupine7, Oct 4, 2015
Te agadezco a ti Porcu! ♥ - Daniela2041, Oct 4, 2015
@Ray: Please don't delete this post. If something has to go, delete the "reference" one. - Daniela2041, Oct 4, 2015
They can both stay, first we usually do a post like this, then we add it to the reference section. Great job, Dani! - sanlee, Oct 4, 2015
Good one Dani :) - ian-hill, Oct 4, 2015
Magnifico! Muchísimas gracias! - jrschenk, Oct 4, 2015
There's nothing wrong with your thread Dani. Thanks for helping everyone. Did you do one for the Reference section? - rac1, Oct 4, 2015
Fantastic thread Amiga something we have been needing for a long while. Well done. - ray76, Oct 4, 2015
Gracias, maestra. Había un error en #5 abajo "ser" que corregí aquí y en el Reference Article. - Jubilado, Oct 4, 2015
Gracias, Jubi. I found another one in #5, but I just fixed it. - Daniela2041, Oct 4, 2015
¡Genial, Daniela! :) ¡Muchas gracias es un post estupendo y muy útil....especialmente para los principiantes! - FELIZ77, Oct 5, 2015
Your post clarified 2 points för me: number 8 of ser about events and number 3 of estar the difference between condition and característics Very helpful :) - FELIZ77, Oct 5, 2015
Characterístics - FELIZ77, Oct 5, 2015
Nice one, Dani, very helpful and concise. - annierats, Oct 5, 2015
Nice Dani. - katydew, Oct 7, 2015
As if i would ever delete anything of yours, don - ray76, Mar 17, 2016
-t answer that . - ray76, Mar 17, 2016
Excelente! Muchas gracias! - AuntieJenny, Mar 19, 2016
Thank you gracious Lady. - oledog, Sep 22, 2016
@oledog and others, "You all are very welcome." - Daniela2041, Sep 22, 2016

32 Answers



Me siento obligado a decir que es la forma particular en que usted dijo cosas, y los ejemplos específicos que usted proporcionó, que hacen de este un documento maravilloso. He leído sobre de "ser" y "estar" muchas veces de muchas fuentes, pero ninguna tan útil como éste. Gracias.

PD: por fin entiendo eventos. ¡Gracias de nuevo!


I feel compelled to say that is the particular way in which you phrased things, and the specific examples that you provided, that make this a wonderful document. I have read about "ser" and "estar" many times from many sources, but none so helpful as this. Gracias.

PS: I finally understand events. Thanks again!

updated Jun 11, 2017
posted by jrschenk
Hey, JR. I am really happy to be able to help you and others with this tricky part of the language. ♥ - Daniela2041, Oct 5, 2015
;) - jrschenk, Oct 5, 2015
thank you for using both languages - goospanish, Jun 11, 2017

Hola, Amigos.

Me alegro de que les haya sido algo benéfico mi artículo sobre los verbos "ser" y "estar." Actualmente estoy pensando en ofrecerles una serie sobre el subjunctivo, y posiblemente "por" y "para," y otras cositas que suelen darles grandes dolores de cabeza a los angloparlantes. Quédense sintonizados a esta emisora, y pronto verán mi próximo esfuerzo para más instrucción para los miembros de SD.

I am happy that my article on the verbs "ser" and "estar" has been somewhat beneficial to you. At the present time I am thinking about offering you a series on the subjunctive and possibly "por" and "para" and other little goodies that usually give English speakers big headaches. Stay tuned to this station and soon you see my next effort for more instruction/teaching for SD members. smile

Con amor,



updated Sep 28, 2016
edited by Daniela2041
posted by Daniela2041
We can't wait. - gringojrf, Oct 5, 2015
That's a wonderful idea. Make sure and add all to the reference section. Keep up the good work. ♥ - rac1, Oct 5, 2015

I've never seen the uses of "ser" and "estar" laid out so clearly. You must be a fab Spanish teacher, Daniela.

updated Sep 5, 2017
posted by AnnRon
I'll vote for that!!!! :) - Daniela2041, Oct 5, 2015
So will I . - ray76, Sep 5, 2017

Daniela, what a fantastic and very useful för everyone, especially for beginners! / ¡Qué post estupendo y muy útil para todos, sobre todo..... para los principiantes! smile smile smile

Your post clarified 2 points for me: number 8 of ser about events and number 3 of estar about the difference between when using it for condition and characterístics Very helpful smile

The only thing I can add after reading through your post and looking at some of Gringo's comments is that you could add possibly add a point about thé use of the passive voice using ser:

ex: La puerta fue cerrada = The door was closed/shut!

vs active voice: ex: La niña cerró la puerta = The girl closed the door .

I am sure you could come up with better examples than this one. lol

You may consider that adding this point of use might confuse beginners or you might think it helpful to mention it...I will leave that to your better judgement ! wink

Best regards,

Feliz77 smile

updated Mar 19, 2016
edited by FELIZ77
posted by FELIZ77
"La puerta fue cerrada" is OK. The next one should be: "La niña cerró la puerta." - Daniela2041, Oct 5, 2015
Of course it should, Thank you Danielaa I think that I was stuck in passive voice lol and forgot to change - FELIZ77, Oct 5, 2015

From a "not so new learner" Thank you. I did not know #5 of ser.

The characteristecs vs condition still confuses me but less so after reading this post than a couple of days ago when you first told me to think this way.

One comment and I don't know the official name but can't you use ser to form the impersonal? or some such thing?

Also, I can't come up with an example right now but it seems that sometimes ser is used with the participles?

Or maybe I am just losing it. jajaja.

updated Jan 22, 2016
posted by gringojrf
Ser with a particple. Hmmmmm. Esto es algo complicado. (How's that?) - Daniela2041, Oct 4, 2015
Impersonal. Hmmm. "Pescar en este lago es prohibido." Usually we say it "Se prohibe pescar en este lago." - Daniela2041, Oct 4, 2015
Impersonal expressions like "es possible," "es cierto," "es verdad"? - AnnRon, Oct 4, 2015
Es verdad. :) - Daniela2041, Oct 5, 2015

I'm bumping this up so that people can see this wonderful post about Ser and Estar

Daniela has made this a Reference Articles, accessible from here:

Ser vs Estar

updated Mar 19, 2016
edited by Jubilado
posted by Jubilado
:) - ian-hill, Jan 22, 2016
Hi, I already posted a copy of this to "reference" when I did this. - Daniela2041, Jan 22, 2016
Okay, guess I forgot to check it. I'll edit this to reflect your comment. - Jubilado, Jan 22, 2016
Great Idea making it a reference article :) - FELIZ77, Jan 22, 2016
It was originally a reference Feliz, - ray76, Jan 24, 2016

My God, Woman!!! Is there anything you can't do???

If you ever think of relocating to Nueva Orleans, we've got a lot of schools that could really use you!

updated Mar 17, 2016
posted by Winkfish
Gracias por las flores, Wink. Es favor que me haces. ♥♥ - Daniela2041, Oct 5, 2015
Bad question Winky, she will never admit to that one, and why should she , she is "Wonder Woman" incarnate ! - ray76, Mar 17, 2016

Worthy of more than one go .

updated Jan 22, 2016
posted by ray76
I'll vote for that. - Daniela2041, Oct 6, 2015
I would too if i could. - ray76, Jan 14, 2016

Go girl go !

updated Jan 23, 2016
posted by ray76

Bump requested. Bump given.

updated Jun 11, 2017
posted by Daniela2041
Any bump is better than no bump at all. Your bump is appreciated mi amor. - ray76, Jun 11, 2017
Yes, we need to try and keep this at the top. - rac1, Jun 11, 2017

Five months after, and I just found this. What a wonderful post this is! Thankyou very much amiga.

updated Sep 19, 2016
posted by 00cc0117
I'm glad you found it. One of the moderators bumps it up now and then. - Daniela2041, Mar 18, 2016

I am opening this again for Markfiliwhatsit.

updated Sep 7, 2016
posted by ray76

Soy un hombre feliz de ver a este hilo.

Me alegro por Dani , así estoy feliz.

I am a happy man to see this thread.

I'm happy for Dani,I'm so happy.

updated Jul 11, 2016
posted by ray76

How about the conjugated forms of "estar"? In my Spanish class I am learning about "está" and "están" as singular and plural forms of 'is in' and 'are in'. Where do those fit in?

updated Jul 11, 2016
posted by Matjam
They are boys. They are in the class. "(Ellos) son muchachos" (Ellos) están en la sala de clase. "Ser" for identity, "Estar (está) for location. I didn't want to make my article too long. I just gave the reasons for using each one. I did not go into - Daniela2041, Mar 18, 2016
the conjugations. Of course, you must always use the proper forms of the verb in question. - Daniela2041, Mar 18, 2016
I thought and sadly maybe i am wrong, that also, to be is effected by permanent vs non permanent....example I am in zona rosa ... estoy en zona rosa - but I am american ... soy americano (norte) as I will always be such...but estoy bravo ... - jhony954, Apr 5, 2016


updated Sep 5, 2017
posted by ray76
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