Ser & Estar: To Be

The verbs ser & estar both mean “to be,” but in Spanish, they’re used for different situations. Generally, ser is for more permanent states: personality, career, appearance, etc. Estar, on the other hand, is for more temporary things: moods, locations, physical conditions. Let’s take a closer look:


Yo soy  I am
eres  You are
El/Ella/Usted es  He/She is / You (formal) are
Nosotros/as somos  We are
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes son  They are

Uses for ser:

In general, you can think of ser as the verb to use when you’re talking about more central or permanent characteristics—things that are not easily changed. For example, if you’re saying, “He is from Boston,” you would use ser.  As you read through these uses of ser, pay attention to how this rule can help you remember them.


Roberto es de Perú.           Robert is from Peru.
Roberto es peruano.          Robert is Peruvian.


Ella es mi hermana.           She is my sister.
Ella es mi mamá.                She is my mother.


Physical attributes

Yo soy delgada.                  I am slim.
El es gordo.                          He is fat.


Personality characteristics

Sophia es amable.             Sophia is nice.
eres exigente.                You are demanding.



Silvia es doctora.                 Silvia is a doctor.
Carlos es mecánico.          Carlos is a mechanic.


Date and time

Hoy es lunes.                       Today is Monday.


Yo estoy  I am
estás  You are
El/Ella/Usted está  He/She/You (formal) are
Nosotros/as estamos  We are
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes están  They are

Uses for estar:

You can generally think of estar as the verb to use when talking about more temporary states. For example, if you’re saying, “I am in Los Angeles,” use estar. As you read through these uses of estar, pay attention to how this rule can help you remember them.


Estoy en mi casa.               I am at home.


Estoy feliz.                            I am happy.
El es triste.                         He is sad.

Physical condition

Estoy enfermo.                    I am sick.
El está bien.                         He is ok.


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