Grammar: Verbs - Ser and Estar

Grammar: Verbs - Ser and Estar

Usage of the Verbs “Ser” and “Estar”

  • The verbs “ser” and “estar” both translate to “to be” in English, but are used in different contexts in Spanish.
  • Ser” is used for describing permanent or lasting attributes. This can be remembered with the acronym DOCTOR: Description, Occupation, Characteristic, Time, Origin, and Relationship.
  • In contrast, “estar” is used for temporary states, locations, and to form the progressive tenses. Remember this with the acronym PLACE: Position, Location, Action in progress, Condition, Emotion.
  • The choice between “ser” and “estar” sometimes results in a change of meaning. For example, “ser aburrido” means to be a boring person, while “estar aburrido” means to be bored.
  • Practice is key to understand when to use the verbs “ser” or “estar”. Try to read and listen to as much Spanish content as possible and pay attention to how these verbs are used.

Conjugation of “Ser” and “Estar”

  • Ser” conjugates as: soy (I am), eres (you are, singular), es (he/she/it is), somos (we are), sois (you plural are, Spain), son (they/you formal are).
  • Estar” conjugates as: estoy (I am), estás (you are, singular), está (he/she/it is), estamos (we are), estáis (you plural are, Spain), están (they/you formal are).

Examples of “Ser” and “Estar”

  • The sentence “La manzana es verde” (The apple is green.) uses “ser” since it refers to an inherent characteristic - the colour of the apple.
  • In contrast, “La manzana está verde” (The apple is green) uses “estar” since it means the apple is unripe (a temporary state) rather than being green in colour.
  • The past participle is often used with “estar” to describe conditions resulting from a previous action. For example, “La puerta está cerrada” (The door is closed).