Lesson 1:
Difference Between Ser & Estar

Difference Between Ser & Estar

SER

In general we can say that the verb “ser” is used to describe situations, people, time, characteristics; it is used for description. The conjugation of this verb is as follows:

Ser (to be)
Yo Soy
eres
usted/Él/ella es
Nosotros somos
Ellos/ellas son
Ustedes son

To understand it better, we will study each rule:

1. Characteristics: describes the physical, mental, emotional and personality of people, things and places, such as color, material things, and emotions. It’s like saying in English: “What is he like?”

Example:

Ana es amable con todos.
Ana is kind to everyone.

eres muy cariñoso.
You are very affectionate.

Antigua es una ciudad muy interesante.
Antigua is a very interesting city.

La mesa es de madera fina.
The table is made of fine wood.

Mi casa es de color rojo.
My house is red.

2. Description: describes the essential qualities and physical attributes of a person, place or thing.

Example:

Ella es alta.
She is tall.

Los niños son muy inteligentes.
The children are very smart.

Ella es Cintia.
She is Cynthia.

La ciudad es grande.
The city is big.

3. Occupation: describes the profession or occupation of a person, whether professional or something temporary.

Example:

Yo soy maestra de español.
I am a spanish teacher.

Él es arquitecto.
He is an architect.

Mi padre es carpintero.
My father is a carpenter.

Mi hermano es estudiante.
My brother is a student.

Ellos son bomberos.
They are firefighters.

eres doctor.
You are a doctor.

4. Origin: describes where a person or object originates from.

Example:

Ella es de Canadá.
She is from Canada.

Yo soy de Guatemala.
I am from Guatemala.

El libro es de España.
The book is from Spain.

Ellos son de Costa Rica.
They are from Costa Rica.

Las monedas son de la época colonial.
The coins are from the colonial era.

5. Time: describes the time, day and date, either as something specific, or to describe an event.

Example:

¿Qué hora es? Son las cinco de la mañana.
What time is it? It’s five o’clock in the morning.

La fiesta es el sábado.
The party is on Saturday.

La clase es a las ocho de la mañana.
The class is at eight in the morning.

El concierto es a las ocho de la noche.
The concert is at eight in the evening.

Hoy es veinticinco de enero.
Today is January 25th.

6. Identification: description of people, and the relationship between them.

Example:

Él es el hermano de mi amiga.
He is my friend’s brother.

Ella es mi esposa.
She is my wife.

Nosotros somos los hijos de Adela.
We are Adela´s sons.

¿Quién es ella? Ella es mi hija.
Who is she? She is my daughter.

7. Location: describes where the events take place, such as meetings, concerts, parties, etc.

Example:

La fiesta es en mi casa.
The party is in my house.

La reunión es en la escuela.
The meeting is at school.

La cena de acción de gracias es en la casa de mi mamá.
Thanksgiving dinner is at my mom’s house.

8. Possession: describes the ownership of things or objects.

Example:

La casa es de mi hermana.
The house is my sister’s.

Este libro es de la maestra.
This book is the teacher’s.

El carro negro es mío.
The black car is mine.

La escuela es del gobierno.
The school belongs to the government.

9. Impersonal Phrases: we don’t add any personal pronouns. It is used for comments in general.

Example:

¡Es bueno!
It’s good!

Aprender español es fácil.
Learning Spanish is easy

¡Es interesante!
It’s interesting!

No es lógico.
It is not logical.

ESTAR

In general we can say that the verb “estar” expresses the state or condition of people and things; sometimes temporary, and also the location of people, things, and places.

Estar (to be)
Yo estoy
estás
usted/Él/ella está
Nosotros estamos
Ellos/ellas están
Ustedes están

In order to understand it better we will study the uses one by one:

1. State or condition: expresses the state or condition in which a person is according to their mood, how the person feels, and their physical and mental condition. It’s also used with the state or condition in which the objects are.

Example:

Yo estoy triste.
I am sad.

Él está cansado de trabajar mucho.
He is tired of working so much.

Los estudiantes están preocupados por el examen.
The students are worried about the test.

El café está frío.
The coffee is cold.

estás enferma.
You are sick.

Los platos están rotos.
The dishes are broken.

El carro está descompuesto.
The car is broken.

2. Location: user expresses where people, things and places are; whether on a temporary or permanent basis.

Example:

Ella está en la casa.
She is in the house.

El banco está cerca de la escuela.
The bank is near the school.

Mis libros están sobre la mesa.
My books are on the table.

Antigua está en Guatemala.
Antigua is in Guatemala.

La ciudad de Tokio está en el Japón.
The city of Tokyo is in Japan.

3. Auxillary: used as an auxiliary with the gerund to form progressive tenses. We form the present participle in English with the ending “-ing”. In Spanish, we use the endings “-ando/-iendo/-yendo” depending on the termination of the verb, as well as if the verb is regular or irregular.

Example:

Yo estoy estudiando español en Let’s Go Spanish
I am studying Spanish in Let’s Go Spanish.

Ellos están comiendo en la mesa del comedor.
They are eating at the dining room table.

Los niños estuvieron jugando en el parque ayer toda la tarde.
The children were playing in the park all afternoon yesterday.

Ella estaba hablando por teléfono cuando yo llegué.
She was on the phone when I arrived.

El próximo mes ellos estarán viajando a Antigua por primera vez.
Next month they will be traveling to Antigua for the first time.