Ser vs. Estar — Which One to Use?

The verbs SER and ESTAR are the main connecting words in Spanish, but they are often confused because both verbs translate as “to be”. Nevertheless, each one has an absolutely different meaning. If you have ever been confused by SER vs ESTAR, then this post will help you with a list all of the most common uses of these two important Spanish verbs. Use this Spanish classes in Valencia handy guide to help you out!

Uses of the verb SER

Description of constant quality and consistent characteristic.

Use SER when you name and describe a person.

  • Yo soy María. — I´m Mary
  • Él es Juan. — He´s Juan.
  • Yo soy alta. — I´m tall.
  • Ellos son tranquilos. — They´re quiet.
  • Mi hermana es inteligente. — My sister is smart.


Use SER when you name a profession or a hobby

  • Soy actriz. — I´m actress
  • Ella era peluquera. — She wasa hairdresser.
  • Mi hijo será abogado. — My son will be a lawyer.
  • Somos amigos. — We´re friends.


Time can refer to dates and the time on the clock.

  • Hoy es martes. — Today is Tuesday.
  • Mañana será el jueves. — Tomorrow is Thursday.
  • Es la una. — Now it’s the hour.
  • Son las dos. — It’s two o’clock.

Pay attention, use es when you say “hour”, and use son with all numbers above 1


Place of birth, nationality, origin.

Use SER when you say where someone is from, indicate their nationality, and also mark what the thing is made of:

  • Soy de Inglaterra. — I´m from England.
  • Eres de Rusia. — You´re from Russia.
  • Es italiano. — He´s Italian.
  • Son españoles. — They´re Spanish.
  • La mesa es de madera. — The table is made of wood.
  • La cadena es de plata. — The chain is made of silver.


Relationships, religions.

If you want to mark family ties and talk about your religion, use SER:

  • Sergio es mi marido. — Sergio is my husband.
  • Ella es mi hermana. — She is my sister.
  • Soy religioso. — I´m a religious.
  • Soy católico. — I’m a Catholic.



You can ask for a price using the verb SER:

  • ¿Cuánto es? — How much is it?


Age, color, size, quality.

Use SER to describe the consistent characteristics of objects.

  • El bolso es grande. — The bag is large.
  • La película es buena. — The movie is good.
  • La casa es blanca. — The house is white.
  • El coche es nuevo. — The car is new.


Uses of the verb ESTAR


If you want to know or specify where the object or person is located, use the verb ESTAR:Estoy en casa. – I´m at home.

  • ¿Dónde está el libro? – Where is the book?
  • La oficina está al lado del café. – The office is next to a cafe.
  • ¿Dónde estás ahora? – Where are you now?


Temporary condition.

When you describe the person or object state at this time, use the verb ESTAR:

Estoy casado. – I’m married.

Estábamos enfermos. – We were sick.

¿Por qué estás nervioso? – Why are you nervous?


The action that is taking place at the moment.

Use ESTAR whan you want indicate that a certain action is being performed now. In fact, the present conjugation of ESTAR is used together with the gerund form (-ndo) of the verb:

  • Estamos bailando. – We’re dancing now.
  • ¿Con quién estás hablando? – Who are you talking to now?
  • Están trabajando. – They’re working now.



When you want to say how many degrees it is outside, use ESTAR in the first person plural (nosotros) and the preposition a:

Estamos a 28 grados hoy. – Today it´s 28 degrees.


Days and months.

To name the date, use ESTAR in the first person plural (nosotros):

  • Estamos a 15 de octubre. – Today is October 15th.


Difference between SER and ESTAR

Take note that SER and ESTAR completely change the phrase meaning when used with the same word. Here are a few examples:




ser aburrido

to be boring

estar aburrido

to be bored

ser bueno

to be good

estar bueno

to be tasty/attracted

ser cansado

to be a tiring person

estar cansado

to be tired

ser grave

to be serious

estar grave

to be seriously ill

ser listo

to be clever

estar listo

to be ready

ser malo

to be bad

estar malo

to be ill

ser orgulloso

to be conceited

estar orgulloso

to be proud

ser moreno

to have dark hair

estar moreno

to be tanned

ser pesado

to be heavy

estar pesado

to be tiresome

ser rico

to be rich

estar rico

to be tasty

ser seguro

to be safe

estar seguro

to be certain

ser verde

to be green

estar verde

to be unripe

ser viejo

to be old

estar viejo

to look old

ser vivo

to be sharp

estar vivo

to be alive


Text: Mariia Lisafina

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