Ser vs. Estar

Knowing when to use either "ser" or "estar" can be tricky because both verbs are translated into English as "to be".

In general:


" Ser" is primarily used when describing the intrinsic, more or less permanent characteristics of the subject.

José es alto. - Jose is tall.

" Estar" is used for the emotional or physical state that the subject is in.

José está emocionado. - Jose is excited.


Use "ser" with:

  • nationalities and places of origin 
  • professions or occupations 
  • characteristics of people and things 
  • generalizations 
  • possessions 
  • what something is made of 
  • time and date 
  • where an event takes place 
  • stages of life 

Use "estar" with:

  • location or spatial relationships 
  • health 
  • physical states and conditions 
  • emotional states 
  • ongoing actions 
  • certain weather expressions 

Check out these Fluencia lessons on the differences between “ser” and “estar”:

"Ser" vs. "Estar"
Common phrases with "ser" and "estar"
Reviewing "ser" and "estar"
Reviewing "ser" and "estar" once again
Uses of "ser": Descriptions and Origins
Using "ser" to tell time
The basics of "estar"
Uses of "estar"
Temporary conditions with "estar"
Temporary conditions with "estar" 2
Common prepositions for "estar"

You can learn more about the difference between these verbs on our sister site, SpanishDict.com!

Compare both verbs here:

"Ser" vs. "Estar"
Quick tips for understanding "ser" and "estar"

Learn more about “ser” here:

Using "ser" with descriptions
Using "ser" with origins
Using "ser" with time

Learn more about “estar” here:

Using "estar" with conditions
Using "estar" with locations

While knowing which verb to choose may seem difficult at first, making a decision will become a lot easier with time and practice!  As always, you can certainly email us if you have a specific question, or if even if you just need some encouragement!

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