Spanish Verbs: Ser and EstarTweet
One of the topics that can confuse learners (along with the subjunctive and por/para), is deciding when to use the Spanish verbs ser and estar.
An example in English
Before we begin discussing the differences between ser and estar, let’s look at an example in English.
My cat is sick. He threw up on the rug.
(Meaning: My cat is ill.)
How awful. I can’t believe she did that! Alicia is sick.
(Meaning: Alicia has a permanent personality defect.)
In these two sentences, the word sick has two different meanings and describe two different things. In the first sentence, sick describes the temporary condition of the cat. In the second sentence, sick describes the essence of Alicia.
Ser and Estar: What versus How/Where
When choosing between the Spanish verbs ser and estar, you should determine if you are describing what or how (or where).
The Spanish verb ser generally describes a permanent state of being, or attributes that do not change. We use this to describe the “what” of something. Here are some examples:
Yo soy Cynthia. (I am Cynthia, and I will always be Cynthia.)
Juan es alto. (Juan is tall, and will always be tall.)
Generally speaking, the Spanish verb estar is used to describe how or where something is. These are attributes that could change.
Ella está cansada. (She is tired right now.)
Estamos en España. (We are in Spain at this moment.)
How to Conjugate Ser and Estar
Let’s look how to conjugate ser in the present tense. This is an irregular verb, so you must memorize the conjugation.
Likewise, let’s look at how to conjugate estar in the present tense. This is also an irregular verb, so you must memorize the conjugation.
More on the Spanish Verbs Ser and Estar
Stay tuned, as this is the first part of a series of articles discussing the Spanish verbs ser and estar. Later posts will discuss more on usage of these two verbs.