1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. Ser or Estar? That is the que…


Ser or Estar? That is the question

Choosing between verbs ser or estar can be confusing for those learning Spanish. Let’s make it easier.

Both verbs mean to be and both are irregular verbs.

pronoun estar ser
yo estoy soy
estás eres
él, ella, Usted está es
nosotros/nosotras estamos somos
vosotros/vosotras estáis sois
ellos/ellas están son

The difference between ser and estar is found in how each is used. Typically, ser is used to describe more permanent states.

uses of ser example translation
Time and date Son las seis. It’s six o’clock.
Definitions Duolingo es una aplicación. Duolingo is an app.
Opinions and
Esta explicación es importante. This explanation is important.
Professions Pedro es piloto. Pedro is a pilot.
qualities or
Yo soy alto y delgado. I am tall and slim.
Origin Nosotras somos de Canadá. We are from Canada.
Possessions El teléfonoes mío. The phone is mine.
Location and
time of events
La fiesta es en mi casa. The party is at my house.
Materials La mesa es de madera. The table is made of wood.
The climate La región es fría y húmeda. The region is cold and wet.
uses of estar example translation
Location, both
temporary and
Luis está en Madrid. Luis is in Madrid.
Correctness or
Esta respuesta está bien. This answer is right.
Los vestidos están de moda. Dresses are in fashion.
Weather Está soleado. It is sunny.
Moods Estoy triste. I am sad.
The result of
a process
La cena está servida. Dinner is served.

Sometimes we can use both ser and estar with certain adjectives, but the meaning of the adjectives will change. Here are some examples.

ser estar
Ser listo (to be quick and clever) Estar listo (to be ready)
Ser malo (to be evil) Estar malo (to have a
bad taste or be in bad conditions)
Ser decidido (to be a
decisive/determined person)
Estar decidido (to be intent
on doing something)
Ser aburrido (to be boring) Estar aburrido (to be bored)

Practice your Spanish. ¿Cómo estas en este momento? ¿Cómo eres regularmente?

August 24, 2017



To add to what you said, both ser and estar can be used to connect the subject with a word that gives information about it, so often you will find that the same adjective can be used with either verb without changing its meaning, instead, the use of either verb will show the speaker's perspective on the attribute. In general, estar is used when the speaker considers that the attribute is the result of an action, transformation, or change, or it is not considered to be permanent. Ser, on the other hand, is used when the attribute is considered to be inherent to the subject or stable, or when the the speaker is trying to categorise the subject. For example:

  • Ella es delgada (Being slim is a stable feature of hers, or she's being included in the category of people who are slim).
  • Ella está delgada (She is slim as a result of an action or change).

Both translate to "She is slim".

  • Soy casado (The speaker is including himself in the category of people who are married).
  • Estoy casado (The attribute is the result of an action, or it is not considered permanent)

Both translate to "I am married".

  • Antonia es triste (Sadness is an inherent characteristic of hers)
  • Antonia está triste (She is sad as a result of an action)

Both translate to "Antonia is sad".


"Ser triste" is not common but is valid


Ser triste no significa lo mismo que estar triste, ser triste expresa como es una persona por ejemplo, Juan es triste, estar triste es usado mas como algo temporal, Juan esta triste. (quiere decir que Juan esta triste en este momento, pero no que lo sea/este siempre)


It is not common to use it with people, but the construction itself is common.


ser triste= you are sad all time estar triste= you are sad small time


No, what you are noticing is merely a shadow of the real thing whenever a comparison between these two verbs is portrayed by how long a person is sad. The first time you focus on the shadow, perhaps your comparison might happen to be consistent with the real difference between SER and ESTAR. The next time you focus on the shadow, perhaps not.

In other words, your post does not describe the real difference between SER and ESTAR.

The real difference is:

  • ser triste = to be (characteristically) sad

  • estar triste = to feel (rather than be characteristically) sad

We normally wouldn't talk about sad people in the sense of characteristically sad people by using SER. People are capable of both sadness and happiness. People are not characteristically one emotion. The nature of people is that they are characteristically emotional.

La guerra es triste.
― War is sad.


La mejor explicación!


I haven't read all the comments so I hope I'm not repeating what someone else has said, but my dad taught me a cool rhyme to remember: "For how you feel and where you are, always use the verb estar." It doesn't work in every facet of course, but it helped me pass three semesters of Spanish okay.


That's brilliant! Spanish tends to be tricky and rules don't always work in every case, but at the beginning of your learning it is good to have something to hold to until you find your way through the oddities of the languages. Well done!


Thank you HelpfulDuo that really helped me a lot


How you feel and where you are, this is when you use estar. Who you are and where you're from is when you use the other one.


The verb "SER" is related to the nature of something, it is a permanent condition of the subject:

  • Yo soy feo: I am ugly, always, IT IS PART OF MY NATURE, because I were born that way.

The verb "ESTAR" is related to something that belongs to a period of time, but it's not part of the nature of the subject, it can be changed. For example:

  • Yo estoy feo: I am ugly (for example: because of my dressing), it is something temporary and not because of my nature.

Another example:

  • Soy de Barcelona: I am from Barcelona, usually used to describe you were born there, that fact cannot be changed. It can also be used to explain to someone from anywhere else that you are a PERMANENTLY living in that city.

  • Estoy en Barcelona: I am in Barcelona, right now.

Even if you confuse both verbs, the person you are talking to should be able to understand what you meant, although sometimes it can sound really awful, for example: "El teléfono está mio" (wrong) / "El telefono es mio" (correct)

In the other hand, sometimes it could sound just okay, with a slightly different meaning: Soy feliz/Estoy feliz.

I wish this can help:)


This is very useful. Another way to look at it is ser is used for traits or characteristics, and estar is used for a state or condition (and location).
Estoy aburrido= I'm bored. (condition).
Soy aburrido= I'm boring (characteristic).
La mano está roja. = The hand is red. (condition, it is red right now but is not regularly red. Maybe it has a rash).
La mano es roja. = The hand is red. (a characteristic, it is always red).


Thar really helped me


I see so many people confuse the two—this is a much needed guide! Thanks for writing this!


Glad we could help! We will keep bringing you guides like this :)


This has been one of my challenges in my learning process. Thank you for the post!


Glad we could help! :)


thank you so much for helping me learn spanish


Los pronombres "vosotros/as" y sus conjugaciones se emplean solamente en España. En Latinoamérica se reemplazan por el pronombre "Ustedes", por lo tanto sería: "Ustedes son y ustedes están."

Y falta el acento del verbo "estar" en la pregunta: ¿Cómo estás en este momento? :)


Thank you. I was tripped up recently because I thought you used ser for all jobs, but estar is used for temporary (non-professional) jobs!


Do you have an example of using estar for a temporary job? I cannot think of a case where it would be used for a job, even a temporary, non-professional job.


I think there are a few examples, but it is using a construction, maybe estar de / estar haciendo de (This is indeed the same as: hacer de / trabajar de) that can imply the work is temporary, but not always. Also, I think this does not imply that the work cannot be understood as permanent for other people because the situation is unclear, or perhaps because the job is indeed permanent for some people.


1) Estoy de cocinero aquí. / Soy el cocinero aquí.

(Both forms can be understood as permanent jobs, but the latter is for me, the proper to say the person has a permanent position in a place)

2 Estoy haciendo de payaso. / Soy payaso.

(The first construction can imply the person is temporarily acting in children's parties or public places, but also working in a permanent job in other place, for example, as a musician, an actor, a teacher, a nurse. And the latter can be used to affirm that the only work is as a professional clown)

Note: In some places, we can say in Spanish Trabajo de payaso, Soy payaso, Soy clown, so we also use the word clown, to can differentiate other types of clowns (There are also: payaso carablanca, payaso augusto, payaso contraugusto)


So, the only use of the verb estar is not proper to talk about a profession or job, but it can be used as a construction.

I hope it helps. =)


Huh, what I had in mind was "estoy" without the "de", and I didn't consider that "estoy de" could be used for temporary positions. Big thanks for the explanation, since it clears things up!


Muchas gracias para tu ayudar HelpfulDuo!


"How you feel and where you are, always use the verb estar"


Estoy bien en este momento y estoy practicando español en Duolingo. Regularmente... ¿Qué puedo decir utilizando regularmente y ser juntos? :)

Y un poco corrección, el nombre de las torres en Malasia es 'Petronas'. La S es original. Así es The Petronas Towers o The Petronas Twin Towers en inglés. Con cariño y amor de Malasia. :)


Gracias para las informaciones. Ahora, yo se cuando usar "ser" o estar" en los situationes. Este forum es la mejor explicacion! Puedes explicas de conocer y saber en el futuro tambien?


ser is permanent like your skin color. estar is not permanent it describes feelings


Esta bien! Muchas Gracias!


I'm loving the new format, though I wish at level 5 there was a way to know how many times I've practiced at each topic. Forty-eight possibilities is a lot!


There's a video on YouTube that will also help you understand the difference between Ser and Estar: https://youtu.be/lqQ7tHk2R5E


Generally the verb " estar" is used with actions for example ..
Yo estudio (I study)
and the verb "ser" is used with adjectives ,professions or whatever Soy estudiante ( i am student)


Good(and fairly short) Youtube video: Spanish Grammar Por vs Para. Learn How to Speak Spanish Online Fast. Many comments claim it helped them pass their Spanish tests. And the professor is a native Spanish speaker. Sorry I don't know how to provide a link. I think the Learn How ... is the name of the channel.


Both can be used although it sounds rather unnatural to have the pronoun in unless you want to clarify where it is ambiguous in the conjugation (el/ella/usted o ellos/ellas/ustedes) or when you want to emphasise more who is doing the action than the rest of the sentence. Like if the important part of the sentence wasn't that apples were being eaten but that I in particular was eating them


also, my spanish teacher made a connection that really clicked this for me. estar is used for temporary things, like feelings or ice cubes. however, ser is used for more permanent things like characteristics (like eye color) or icebergs.


The way things are warming up, I wouldn't include "icebergs", lol



also, my spanish teacher made a connection that really clicked this for me. estar is used for temporary things, like feelings or ice cubes. however, ser is used for more permanent things like characteristics (like eye color) or icebergs.

No. ESTAR does not mean temporary.

There are a number of Duolingo students who have written posts in the Duolingo Spanish forum after they drive their car into the ditch. Afterwards, they write a post to complain about their results. These Spanish learners often don't understand the cause. What caused them to drive their car into the ditch?

In many cases, I read these posts and I can guess the cause, if not infer the cause. The cause is that somebody told them that ESTAR means temporary.

After reading your post, I came to the conclusion that you don't know the difference between icebergs and icecubes. But I am not really here to explain the difference between icecubes and icebergs. I am really here to warn you before you drive your car into a ditch.

Los icebergs no son inmortales.
―Icebergs are not immortal.

Tampoco los cubitos de hielo.
― Neither are icecubes.


Estoy a mi trabajo en la oficina. Soy regularmente una maestra a una escuela.


Estoy en mi trabajo, en la oficina. Soy regularmente una maestra en una escuela.

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.