Spanish Language Blog

Spanish Lesson Intermediate 10 Differences between the Spanish verbs “Ser” and “Estar” Posted by on Jan 5, 2011 in Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary, Videos

¡Hola a todos!

I would first like to wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year! I hope one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to study and practice even more Spanish and to watch every single one of Laura’s video lessons.

Today we are going to analyse in detail the differences between the two very important Spanish verbs “Ser” and “Estar” (both of which are equivalent to the verb “To be” in English: I am, you are, he is, she is, it is, we are, you are, they are).

Let´s start by looking at the different uses of “Ser”:

Nationality or place of origin:

• Carla es italiana: Carla is Italian

Description of people:

• Antonio es alto y moreno: Antonio is tall and dark

Description of things:

• La camisa es roja, de manga corta: The shirt is red, with short sleeves


• La falda es de algodón: The skirt is made of cotton


• Esos zapatos son de Silvia: Those shoes are Silvia´s

Definition or Identification:

• Esa es la verdad: That is the truth


• Soy profesora: I am a teacher


• El cumpleaños de Sonia es el 3 de marzo: Sonia´s birthday is the 3rd of March

To justify yourself:

• Ya sé que llego tarde, es que había mucho tráfico: I know I have arrived late; it is because there was a lot of traffic

To state total price:

• ¿Cuánto es un café y una tostada?: How much is a coffee and toast?
Son cinco euros: It´s 5 euros

To state a place of celebration or event:

• La reunión es en ese despacho: The meeting is in that office


• Es bueno beber mucha agua: It is good to drink a lot of water

Now, let´s see the different uses of “Estar”:

To express the physical state or state of mind of people or things:

• El café está frío: The coffee is cold
• Ana está muy enfadada: Ana is very angry

To compare with what is considered normal:

• Los tomates están baratos: The tomatoes are cheap (today/compared to normal)
• El niño está muy alto para su edad: The child is very tall for his age

Temporary profession:

• Enrique está de camarero en ese restaurante: Enrique is a waiter in that restaurant


• Hoy estamos a 18 de septiembre: Today is the 18th of September

Actions at a specific moment:

• Estoy hablando por teléfono: I am talking on the phone
• María está viendo la television: María is watching TV

To state a change of price:

• ¿A cuánto están hoy las naranjas?: How much are the oranges today?
Están a dos euros el kilo: They are two euros a kilo


• Carlos está en Málaga: Carlos is in Málaga


• Está bien que llames para disculparte: It would be good that you phone to apologise

I hope that now you are clearer on when to use “Ser” or “Estar” in a sentence. This is very important, we use both of these verbs very often in conversation, and not just in Present Tense, but in all the tenses. As there is only one verb “To be” in English remembering the slight differences between “Ser” and “Estar” can be a tricky issue for English speakers. But, don´t worry too much if you don´t always get it right straight away, you will get better and better with time and before long you will forget that you ever had any doubts. Eventually you get a “feel” for the language and things such as “Ser” and “Estar” just fall into place.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo y que tengáis una buena semana!

¡Hasta pronto!

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About the Author: Laura & Adam

Laura & Adam have been blogging and creating online Spanish courses for Transparent Language since 2010. Laura is from Bilbao in northern Spain and Adam is from Devon in the south of England. They lived together in Spain for over 10 years, where their 2 daughters were born, and now they live in Scotland. Both Laura & Adam qualified as foreign language teachers in 2004 and since have been teaching Spanish in Spain, the UK, and online.


  1. Jimly Ulcena:

    Thank you very much Laura.That’s very helpful