Ficar vs. Ser vs. Estar

I was wondering if anyone could explain why ficar would be used instead of ser or estar, and where ficar would be better than ser and estar?

March 16, 2014


In general:

  • Ser - to be - permanently/inherently
  • Estar - to be - currently (changeable)
  • Ficar - to stay
  • Ficar + verb gerund - To keep doing the verb's action / To spend the time doing verb

For characteristics and qualities

  • Ser - To be permanently, or something related to identity - Inherent quality
  • Estar - To be at the moment or in short term - Current state
  • Ficar - To become/to turn (into) - Change of state


  • Ela é linda = She is beautiful (always, it's her nature to be beautiful)
  • Ela está linda = She is beautiful (at this moment, with these clothes, with this haircut, she looks beautiful now)
  • Ela fica linda = She becomes beautiful

  • Ela está linda nesse vestido = She is beautiful in this dress

  • Ela fica linda nesse vestido = She becomes beautiful in this dress / This dress makes her beautiful
  • Ela fica linda o ano inteiro = She stays beautiful the entire year (the complements and context make a difference, this one uses the general "stay" meaning)

Identity vs State - Ser vs Estar

Another way of seeing this, specially when referring to people, is the difference between identity/personality and current state.
That explains why, for instance, only "ser" is used for professions. Professions are attached to identity, it's not really seen as a current state, althoug you can philosophically see it like that.

  • Ele é engenheiro = He is an engineer
  • Ele está engenheiro (very, very, very unusual)
  • Ele é diferente - his personality/body is different from others
  • Ele está diferente - he is currently behaving/looking different - he changed


For places and locations - static objects (cannot be moved)

  • Ser - Indicates the location of an unmovable thing.
  • Estar - Hardly used, because unmovable objects don't have the transitory meaning.
  • Ficar - Indicates the location of an unmovable thing

The choice between "ser" and "ficar" has no rule, and there is no difference.


  • A casa é naquela rua = the house is on that street
  • A casa fica naquela rua = the house is on that street
  • Meu escritório fica no restaurante = My office is in the restaurant.

There are other ways of saying this like "está localizado/a em", "localiza-se em" and "encontra-se em".


For places and locations - movable objects

  • Ser - not used for movable objects
  • Estar - indicates where the object is at this moment
  • Ficar - indicates where the object belongs to/is used to be


  • A chave está na parede da cozinha - The key is at the kitchen's wall
  • A chave fica na parede da cozinha - The key belongs/stays on the kitchen's wall / The kitchen's wall is where the keys are commonly kept.

More topics: Portuguese Help Index

March 17, 2014

Foi a melhor explicação que eu já vi sobre isso, mesmo sendo brasileiro, me impressiono.

March 17, 2014

Sou estrangeira, e sempre tive problemas com esses verbos. Mas agora eu entendo melhor

October 3, 2018

Thank you!! That was great!

March 17, 2014

really helpful to me.... obrigada

March 19, 2014

Excellent ! This illustration highlights the subtle differences Thank you so much!

August 4, 2015

Very useful! Thanks a lot!

January 12, 2016

As for the last use-case for "ficar" - Is there any particular reason why you wouldn't use "pertencer" instead? As in: "A chave pertence daqui/na parede da cozinha"?
I'm probably in the wrong on this one, but "fica na parede" just sounds kinda "hostile" to me. But great job on your post, like it a lot!

May 22, 2017

Muito obrigado muito bon

August 6, 2017

This is the best explanation I have found anywhere. It is especially helpful for those who speak Spanish in highlighting the differences between the Portuguese ser and estar versus the Spanish ser and estar.

March 24, 2018

Native here. I recently corrected a friend who is learning. The correct is "As olimpíadas de 2016 serão no Rio". She couldn't understand the use of the verb "ser" instead of "estar", since the olympic games change places... but that's the way it is. For events, use "ser": A copa do mundo será na Rússia. A copa do mundo foi no Brasil. O baile será na sua casa.

January 8, 2016

Complementing, SER can be used like ACONTECER, interchangeably, in this case.

January 25, 2016

Excellent post. Using "acontecer" helps avoid the confusion of estar/ser.

May 23, 2017

Thanks for sharing this video. I really found it to be informative.

March 17, 2014

If you watch this video, remember that the correct is "a rã" and not "o rã". Rã is a feminine noun.

March 18, 2014

Olá pessoal, o vídeo está muito legal, mas é necessário corrigir alguns erros. A rã é verde. A rã é um anfíbio. ( RÃ é palavra feminina e ANFÍBIO é escrito com N) IVETE SANGALO (O nome da cantora é IVETE) Ronaldinho - Fica com sua equipe quando viaja ( EQUIPE é palavra feminina)

December 9, 2014

You are a boss. Great explanation! Much appreciated!

March 21, 2014

I'm noob with Portuguese. :c

March 18, 2014

Para mim ficar e a mesma coisa que estar quando quer falar permanecer num lugar. Também se usa para os sentimento, quando em espanhol fala quedar.

September 2, 2015

Thank you so much, @Danmoller

April 5, 2018
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