By : Pablo Ramos


Ser means to be and you can use it for tons of things in spanish.. look below for examples.

1. Description

For description, think of what you would say if someone asked you "What´s he like?" These are the essential qualities that define a person and probably won´t change. They can be a name or a physical description.

Yo soy Pablo.

Yo soy alto, moreno, y delgado.

2. Occupation

Occupations are seen as life-long careers.

Soy profesora del español.

Ellos son estudiantes.

Mi padre era jardinero.

3. Characteristics

Characteristics are personality descriptions of a person. These would probably be the second thing you say to "What´s he like?"

Amalia es inteligente, atrevida, y amable. (Amalia is intelligent, daring, and friendly.)

Mi esposa es romántica y cariñosa.

4. Time

Time includes days, dates, and hours. For hours, use es for one o´clock and son for all other hours.

Hoy es miércoles.

Ayer fue mi cumpleaños.

Ahora es la una y media.

Son las cinco y veintecinco.

5. Origin

As the place a person is from or the material something is made from is not going to change we use ser for origin.

Jordan es de España.

Celeste es mexicana.

Mi anillo es de oro.

6. Relationship

Even after someone dies or someone breaks up, relationships are described using ser.

Religion is a Relationship

Also, since religion is considered a relationship with a higher power, religions are also described using ser.

Karla es mi madre.

Andrés es católico.


Uses of Estar

General Estar Rule

Estar is used to indicate temporary states and locations. If the general rule doesn´t suffice, think of the acronym PLACE, which stands for Position, Location, Action, Condition, and Emotion.

1. Postion

Position is the physical position or posture a person or thing is in.

Mi abuela está sentada.

Yo estaba acostada cuando me llamaste.

2. Location

The location of someone or something describes where it is permanently, temporarily, actually, or conceptually.

El baño está a la derecha de la sala. (The bathroom is to the right of the living room.)

Estamos en el café ahora y estarémos en el cine en 20 minutos. (We are at the café right now and we will be at the movie theatre in 20 minutes.)

Mi abuelo está en la luna. (My grandfather is out of it/lost.)

Exception for Parties

This is a big one: The location of an event or party is described using SER. Not ESTAR!

La fiesta es en mi casa. (The party is at my house.)

3. Action

Estar is used to describe an ongoing action using the present progressive tense.

Estoy lavando los platos sucios. (I am washing the dirty dishes.)

Estamos leyendo los periódicos. (We are reading the newspapers.)

Mi bisabuelo está muerto. (My great-grandfather is dead.)

Death is Ongoing Action

In Spanish, death is seen as an ongoing action, not a permanent state, thus you use the verb estar and not ser.

4. Condition

Physical and mental conditions are described using estar.

Estoy tan cansada esta mañana. (I am so tired this morning.)

Mis niños están enfermos hoy. (My children are sick today.)

Mi madre está un poca loca. (My mother is (acting) a little crazy.)

5. Emotion

How a person is feeling at a certain moment is described using estar.

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.)

Spanish Ser vs. Estar Rap