Ser & estar: Sentences that help me remember when to use them.

Ser & estar. The bane of Spanish learners. How do you know which one to use? Many people like the DOCTOR and PLACE acronyms. That didn’t work for me – I couldn’t think of the lists and my current puzzle at the same time. Besides, they leave out a few important uses.

So I memorized a sentence for each verb. The first sentence includes all the conditions that use ser. The second sentence includes all the conditions that use estar.

Hoy mi jefe es Juan. Es un doctor alto y serio de Chile, y la clase que es aquí es suya. Today my boss is Juan. He is a tall, serious doctor from Chile, and the class that is here is his.

  • hoy: date & time. Mañana es lunes.
  • mi jefe: relationship. Ella es mi maestra. Juan es católico (religión is a relationship).
  • doctor: occupation. Alberto es ingeniero.
  • alto: description. Adriana es delgada (thin).
  • serio: characteristic. Esperanza es muy amable.
  • de: de phrases, including origin, materials, possession. soy de Panama, es hecho de plástico, el perro de Tomás.
  • Chile: origin. El chef es cubano.
  • la clase que es aquí: the location of an event uses ser. All other locations use estar. La fiesta es en mi casa.
  • es suya: possession. El coche rojo es el mío.

Estela está cansada y triste porque está esperando, sentada en el banco, y su pez está muerto. Estela is tired and sad because she is waiting, sitting on the bench, and her fish is dead.

  • cansada: condition. No estás lista para salir.
  • triste: emotion. La maestra está muy enojada.
  • esperando: ongoing action uses the progressive. Estamos jugando al fútbol.
  • sentada: position. Los empleados están de pie (standing).
  • en el banco: location. El pez está en el río.
  • muerto: death. Death is considered an ongoing action, not a permanent state.

Since I started using these two sentences, the question of ser and estar has become much, much easier.

3 years ago


Nice! My spanish class uses a couple simple things to remember estar (we have one for ser but I forgot what it is!):

Twinkle twinkle little estar how you feel and where you are


L-ocation E-motion T-emporary condition

I'll be sure to remember yours, however, because it's much more in-depth and provides some context/examples!

3 years ago

Context! That's it! That's the word. I was trying to figure out how to explain why the DOCTOR & PLACE acronyms weren't working for me. It's because there is no context. I had to jump from my Spanish sentence, to the acronym, to what the letters stand for, comparing that to my situation, and back to my Spanish sentence. That's why it didn't work for me. I know it works for other people; more power to 'em! But not for me.

3 years ago

Muchas gracias!

3 years ago

Gracias. Muy util.

3 years ago

Thanks, folks. I just posted the info to my "Resources for Learning Spanish" pages, . Hopefully the format there will be more useful.

3 years ago
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This is a great resource but you need to delete this comment as its an infringement of the rules to promote your own website that sells language learning products.

after reviewing your profile seems every comment you have left is self promotion.

3 years ago

after reviewing your profile seems every comment you have left is self promotion

The following is a list of items that I've posted in only the PAST THREE DAYS that do not refer to anything on my site:

that sells language learning products.

Each of my web pages has one ad at the top, and the rest of the page is instruction. The book in the ad is not a language learning product. It is a roots book for native English speakers, specifically elementary-aged children, to use roots to increase their English vocabulary.

The two pages I linked to, ser vs estar and not vs no were info I initially created to post here on DuoLingo. In the case of not vs no, I have seen the same question asked by separate people three times in the past week (and frequently before that as well). It seemed like a question that would keep coming back. So it made more sense to create a page I could link to, with good clear formatting, instead of posting the same answer here three times a week, with limited formatting that makes it harder to explain it clearly. As for the ser vs estar page, I've seen several questions about it in the past, but only this weekend did I discover the above method of learning the difference. I posted to this page but got frustrated with the limited formatting, so I put it on a web page where I could lay out the sentences in a table, to make the connections clearer.

I will be happy to discuss it with a moderator, to make sure I work within DuoLingo's guidelines, both the letter and the spirit of the law.

3 years ago
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Many people post resource links. These links appear to be genuine in nature and on topic to language learning. So long as your links continue to stay on topic, I think it is ok to keep sharing them with people. Just please keep in mind not to flood the forums. Which, I think you are keeping in mind. :)

I appreciate the concern brought by Wonderboy6, who is trying to look out for the forums. We've had problems in the past with people flooding the forums by including a product link in every comment, regardless of whether or not the link was relevant. I don't get the impression that you have done that here. So, let's consider the matter settled at this time. :)

3 years ago
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Brilliant, Paula! Thanks.

3 years ago
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tus ejemplos me gustan mucho, bonita idea.

3 years ago

ser and estar are much easier in the present tense after a while the real difficulty is in the past tense there is 24 possible ways to say was ser preterite vs ser imperfect and estar preterite vs estar imperfect good luck lol

3 years ago

I love this method for distinguishing between ser and estar. Well done Paulaha88 !! ⭐️

3 years ago
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