Using "Estar" with Conditions

Quick Answer

While both ser and estar can translate to to be in English, they aren't interchangeable in Spanish.

  • Seris used to classify and identify permanent or lasting attributes.
  • Estaris used to indicate temporary states and locations.

A simple way to remember some of the uses of estar is to think of the mnemonic device (something that helps you remember information) LoCo, which stands for Locations and Conditions. This article covers conditions. Let's take a look!

Using Estar with Conditions

Estar is used to express feelings or temporary physical condition. A condition can be an emotion, a temporary physical state, or a temporary mental state, among others.

Emotions

examples
Estoy triste.
I am sad.
Ella está contenta porque recibió unas flores de su novio.
She is happy because she received some flowers from her boyfriend.

Temporary Physical States

examples
Estoy cansada esta mañana.
I am tired this morning.
Mis niños están enfermos hoy.
My children are sick today.

Temporary Mental States

examples
Mi padre está un poco loco.
My father is (acting) a little crazy.
Los estudiantes están muy confundidos.
The students are very confused.

Tip Time

A helpful tip for remembering conditions is to ask yourself Can I feel ____ ?

  • If the answer is yes, you should probably use estar.
  • If the answer is no or not really, you should probably use ser.

For example, you're not sure if you should use estar or ser with the adjective triste(sad). You ask yourself Can I feel sad? and answer Yes! So you use estar. If you're not sure if you should use estar or ser with the adjective rubia(blonde), ask yourself Can I feel blonde? and answer Not really. So you use ser:

examples

Estoy triste.
I'm sad.

Soy rubia.
I'm blonde.

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