Onde é vs. Onde está

I don't know if this ever got explained to people learning Portuguese, but I noticed my favorite learner making a simple but consistent mistake. I could not understand why he was mixing up "onde é" and "onde está" until I got to a question here and finally understood that this had never been explained here. Anyway, here is a quick tidbit:

Onde é a cozinha? is not the same as Onde está a cozinha?

Onde é is used for things that do not move. Like a kitchen, a bathroom, a country, a train station. Onde é a cozinha? means "Where is the kitchen (located)?"

Onde está is used for things that move or can change place, like a person, a car, my lost keys, his cat. Onde está a cozinha? would translate to Where is the kitchen? as in "Where did the kitchen go?" (or "Where has the kitchen been placed?")

If you're not in a very formal setting, and you forget which to use, use "cadê" (Cadê a cozinha?), which just means "where is" without specifying the details of the question–just like in English. =)

May 5, 2013


You can use "onde fica" instead of "onde é"

May 5, 2013

Good point and "onde ficam" for "onde são". (When something cant move place)

May 6, 2013

Maybe "onde fica/ficam" can be used for things that can move, too, no? Like "onde ficam as chaves?" ("where are the keys?"). In this case, we can suppose someone new or stranger to a home and he or she still does not know where the residents normally place the keys (in this case, a possible translation could be also "where do you put/place the keys?"). We can think the same with many things; one more example: "onde ficam os livros de história" (where are the books of History?) in a library. And so on. Sounds ok to you?

May 7, 2013

Another good point. So, we can sum things up to "onde fica(m)" for things which are constantly kept at the same place. (For instance: onde ficam os microscópios? / onde ficam as telas Renascentistas?) Is that right?

May 7, 2013

That's it =)

May 7, 2013

Great! :)

June 7, 2013

Well ficar can also mean stay, right? "Eu vou a ficar aquí" = "I'm going to stay here"

January 29, 2014

Very good. You can say in short that: 1 - Ser = to be (in essence, permanent), 2 - Estar = to be (in a transitory state, not permanent)

August 14, 2013

I think I (finally) get it. But don't get mad if I make the same mistake again!

May 5, 2013

Thank you for that explaination. how do i get to talk to someone so i can practise speaking all what I have learnt.

November 13, 2013

Maybe through skype... ;)

November 13, 2013

Hello if you could give me your Skype name the maybe we can setup a time to talk

November 15, 2013

paulo.henryc =)

November 15, 2013

is it used daily in normal, common Portuguese? In Spanish we have the same thing "dónde es?" for places and things that won't move, and "dónde está?" for the rest...BUT... normally, in daily Spanish talking, we would say for sure "dónde está?" for everything. (Spain's Spanish... i don't know in other countries)

May 10, 2013

We hardly ever mix them. Most of time we follow the rules above...

May 10, 2013

Idk I'm a native Spanish speaker and for location, I usually say "donde queda [el baño, la cocina, el país]?" but I can't find a similar Portuguese translation. Maybe ficam?

July 7, 2013

Yes. Queda = fica, quedan = ficam

July 7, 2013

Yes, it is always used in portuguese... At least here in Brazil (i'm a native) cause i don't know how it works in portugal. (I'm not fluent in english, if i made a mistake, please show me!)

June 11, 2013

Though I'm not a native speaker I kind of doubt what you're saying. Don't get me wrong, in the end you're the one to know - yet sometimes one isn't quite aware of the intricacies of one's very own language.. ;)

Might it be that in Spanish you're not wrong using estar almost all of the time; I believe, unlike vivisaurus's explanation of the Portuguese use of the term, Spaniards do use estar to express something being situated somewhere (if movable or not). So, even "Valencia ESTÁ en el sur" just as "La iglesa ESTÁ al lado" and "La cocina ESTÁ justamente aquí".

Corrections, anyone?

October 27, 2013

Yes, in Spanish we always use "estar" for places and "es" for events (which might be confusing sometimes for learners). "La fiesta es en la casa que está al lado de la tuya." :)

November 26, 2013

I cannot comment on Spanish, I believe you're right. In Portuguese, those examples would also be correct with "estar"; I imagine it is because those places are situated somewhere particular. In those cases, it is correct use both "ser" and "estar" (A cozinha é aqui and A cozinha está aqui). It is the slight difference between "the kitchen is here" and "the kitchen is placed here". That's the closest I can get to explaining why both are correct in Portuguese, but I am sure there is a better explanation! =)

October 27, 2013

thanks so much! i never could get the difference!

June 7, 2013

Thank you for the detailed clarification! I need all the help I can get!

September 16, 2013

Thanks! This helps a lot :)

December 8, 2013

muy interesante!

October 10, 2013

Is it not also possible to say, "Onde se encontra(m)" or "Onde se localiza(m)"? When would you use these expressions?

June 30, 2014

We might add the following: In Spanish as a general rule we use "estar" referring to a person or persons in a transitory temporal state (He is sick = está enfermo). When referring to a person or persons in a permanent state we as a general rule use "ser" (He is German = Es alemán).

July 17, 2014

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November 27, 2014

At last, a simple effective explanation! I also committed this mistake all the time. Thank you vivisaurus

January 2, 2017
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