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SER or ESTAR? That is the question

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

Both words mean to be and both are irregular verbs.

pronoun ser estar
eu sou estou
você é está
ele / ela é está
nós somos estamos
vocês são estão
eles / elas são estão

The difference between ser and estar is in the way each is used. Typically, ser is used to describe more permanent states and to refer to time and dates.

use of ser example translation
time and date São seis horas.

É sexta-feira.
It's six o'clock.

It's Friday.
definitions Duolingo é um aplicativo. Duolingo is an app.
opinions and
Esta explicação é importante. This explanation is important.
professions O Pedro é piloto. Pedro is a pilot.
qualities or
Eu sou alto. I am tall.
origin Nós somos do Canadá. We are from Canada.
possessions Esse celular é meu. This cell phone is mine.
and time
of events
A festa é na minha casa. The party is at my house.
materials A mesa é de madeira. The table is made of wood.
climate A região é fria e húmida. The region is cold and wet.

Estar is used to describe states that are transitory or temporary.

use of estar example translation
location Luis mora em Londres mas está em Madri hoje. Luis lives in London butis in Madrid today.
correctness or
Não, você está enganado. No, you're mistaken.
temporal situations Essas roupas estão na moda. These clothes are fashion.
weather Está chovendo. It's raining.
moods Estou triste. I'm sad.
the result of a process O jantar está servido. 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
Ele é bonito.
He is good-looking.
Ele está bonito.
He looks good (right now).
Ela é mal-humorada.
She is a grumpy person.
Ela está mal-humorada.
She is in a bad mood.
Ela é decidida.
She is a decisive/determined person.
Ela está decidida.
She has made her decision.
Eles são chatos⁺⁺.
They are annoying.
Eles estão chatos⁺⁺.
They are being annoying.

⁺⁺Chato can also mean boring or picky.

Practice your Portuguese!

Tell us in the comments section how you are feeling at this moment. What are you like normally?

September 22, 2017



Thank you very much! I will copy a.s.a.p. and place on my P. notice board and make sure I look at it every day until I absorb it naturally. I have just returned from a holiday in Portugal (lost my streak at sea - no sat nav!). Whilst there I was so happy how much I was able to make myself understood in so many different every day situations, having studied daily for 10 months with Duolingo plus assistance from U tube European P. to help me with the different pronunciation and some completely different words. I am only half way through my tree, but considering how well I managed when only half way through the course, I am very motivated to finish the tree and be able to converse easily when I visit Portugal again!!!! Muito Obrigada Duolingo :))


Very happy to hear that! Keep an eye out for upcoming posts. We just posted another one a few minutes ago. Enjoy!


A somewhat-related question: If I were to say "if it's not acceptable", would it be advisable to use the conjunctive/subjunctive mood instead of the 3rd person conjugation? Or would the personal infinitive be even more appropriate?

So which (if any) of these would be correct?

A: "Se não é aceitável"

B: "Se não seja aceitável"

C: "Se não for aceitável"


Hi Christian, thanks for your question. You could say either "Se (isso) não é aceitável" OR "Se (isso) não for aceitável". The latter would probably be preferable.


the answer is: letter A


Estou muito quente!


Good one! You can say that or also "Estou com muito calor!".


Estou com calor. (I am hot)
Estou com muito calor. (I am very hot)
Está calor. (It is hot)
Está muito calor. (It is very hot)
Tá um sol de rachar.
Tá muito quente. (It is very hot)


Could I say - 'Estou com quente'? Are 'calor' and 'quente' interchangeable?


It would be quite odd to say "estou com quente". If you want to say that you are hot, then "estou com calor" is the way to go.


Thank you for that :))


quente is used when something or the weather is hot (Este ferro está quente. hoje o dia está quente.) when you or someone feel hot, the body is hot we say calor.(Eu estou com calor. Minha gata está com calor.)


Calor is a noun; quente is an adjective. Calor = heat; quente = hot


Acho importante referir o verbo "ficar". Eu sei que, por si, o verbo significa "to stay" mas também pode-se traduzir para "to be".
Olha o que diz neste site: http://www.nativlang.com/po/qg_verbs_serestarficar.htm

When it comes to location (where something is), both ser and estar can be used. With stationary objects, such as buildings, places, or landmarks, the verb ser sounds more logical, but estar is also acceptable. Of course, you will also use the verb estar when talking about the location of a person or a moving object.

There is a third alternative: ficar. The word roughly means to be located, but it translates best to be when talking about location:

A casa fica aqui the house is here.
Eu fico na rua I'm in the street.

Ficar is also the Portuguese verb for to stay.


"Ser ou não ser - eis a questão". Sei lá, é um negócio do Hamlet.

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