[ Disclaimer: I am learning Spanish, so I can’t guarantee the quality of this page. However, this has helped me work through my textbook, so I thought I’d share. If you see any mistakes, please let me know in the comments! ]
Difference Between Ser and Estar
What’s the difference between ser and estar? Ser – to be. Estoy – to be. Why, Spanish? Why? Not that I should really complain as an English speaker.
There are a lot of ways to use “to be” in English, so trying to figure out when to use which Spanish verb can be a challenge. That’s why I created an acronym for “ser”: DOT PORN. #dontjudge. Here it is:
|T||Time (and Date)|
Then, there are three main cases when you would use estar.
|Emotional, Mental, or Physical Condition|
This is mostly straightforward so I won’t explain everything, but here are some examples and translations for each category.
When to Use Ser – DOT PORN
D – Describe nouns
|Mi hermana es joven.||My sister is young.|
|Yo soy alto.||I am tall.|
|Sus ojos son azules.||His eyes are blue.|
|Mi gato es negro.||My cat is black.|
O – Occupation
|Mi padre es abogado.||My father is a lawyer.|
|Mis madres son deportistas.||My mothers are athletes.|
|Nosotros somos escritores.||We are writers.|
T – Time and Date
|Son las once.||It’s 11 o’clock.|
|Es el catorce de junio.||It is June 14th.|
P – Possession
|Esta es mi computadora.||This is my computer.|
|Este es mi libro.||This is my book.|
O – Origin
|Yo soy de New York.||I’m from New York.|
|Ella es de California.||She is from California.|
|Ellos son de Texas.||They are from Texas.|
R – Relationship
|Ella es mi novia.||She is my girlfriend|
|Este es tu primo.||This is your cousin.|
N – Nationality
|Ella es mexicana.||She is Mexican.|
|Ellos son franceses.||They are French.|
|Somos coreanos.||We are Korean.|
When to Use Estar
|El libro está en la cama.||The book is on the bed.|
|La biblioteca está a la derecha de la escuela.||The library is to the right of the school.|
|Ella está en Canadá.||She is in Canada.|
Emotional, Mental, or Physical Condition
This one is a little trickier. What’s the difference between a description and a condition? I like to think of a description as something that’s more long-term while a condition is something that’s more temporary.
For example, a tall person will always be tall. An intelligent person generally stays intelligent and a boring person generally stays boring. Because these are descriptions of people, we would use “ser.”
A person who is bored, however, is not always bored. Same with being sick or nervous. These are all conditions, so we would use “estar.”
Some adjectives, like “aburrido,” can be used with both ser and estar, but the meaning will change slightly.
|Ella está aburrida. (estar)
Ella es aburrida. (ser)
|She is bored.
She is boring.
|Yo estoy cansada.||I am tired.|
|Ellos están enojados.||They are angry.|
The present progressive describes actions in progress. In English, it’s used when something is happening, not when something happens. For example, “I am walking” as opposed to “I walk,” or “He is working” versus “He works.”
|Estoy caminando.||I’m walking.|
|Está trabajando.||He is working.|
|Estamos nadando.||We are swimming.|
So there you have it: the difference between ser and estar! Let me know if it helped!