Difference between Ser and Estar

Differences between ‘ser’ and ‘estar’: Mastering Spanish Verbs with Ease

Today, we’re embarking on a linguistic adventure to unravel the mysteries of two Spanish verbs that often baffle learners: ‘ser’ and ‘estar’.

Differences between Ser and Estar

These verbs, both translating to ‘to be’ in English, are the charismatic duo of the Spanish language. But fret not! We’re here to decode their differences, uses, and sprinkle in some fun quizzes and exercises to make your learning journey as enjoyable as a stroll through Valencia’s vibrant streets!

1. Understanding ‘Ser’

‘Ser’ is like the foundation of a building – it’s used to describe permanent or lasting attributes. Think of it as the verb that deals with the essence of things. Here’s where you use ‘ser’:

  • Identity: “Yo soy Juan” (I am Juan).
  • Origin: “Ella es de España” (She is from Spain).
  • Time: “Son las ocho” (It’s eight o’clock).
  • Characteristics: “El cielo es azul” (The sky is blue).

2. The World of ‘Estar’

‘Estar’, on the other hand, is the verb of change and condition. It’s like the changing colours of the sky throughout the day. Use ‘estar’ for:

  • Location: “Estoy en la escuela” (I am at school).
  • Temporary states: “Estás cansado” (You are tired).
  • Emotions: “Estamos felices” (We are happy).
  • Ongoing actions (progressive tenses): “Están comiendo” (They are eating).

3. Ser vs. Estar: The Confusion Clearer

Sometimes, choosing between ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ can change the meaning of a sentence entirely! For example:

  • “Eres aburrido” (You are boring – a characteristic) vs. “Estás aburrido” (You are bored – a temporary state).
  • “Es seguro” (It’s safe – a permanent quality) vs. “Está seguro” (It’s safe – a temporary condition).
  • “Soy feliz”. Normally, I am generally happy (let’s forget the bad times).
  • “Estoy feliz”. For the moment, now I feel happy, after having had a bad time, or regardless of whether tomorrow I will be just as happy or whether, on the contrary, a stone on the road…

4. Tips for Mastery

  • Remember, ‘ser’ is for what something is, and ‘estar’ is for how something is.
  • Use mnemonic devices. For ‘ser’, think of DOCTOR (Description, Occupation, Characteristics, Time, Origin, Relationship). For ‘estar’, remember PLACE (Position, Location, Action, Condition, Emotion).
  • Practice, practice, practice!


Mastering the differences between ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ is like learning to dance – it takes practice, but once you get it, you’ll flow with the rhythm of the Spanish language effortlessly. Keep practising, stay curious, and most importantly, have fun with it!

¡Hasta luego!

Practical exercises

1. Fill in the blanks

It’s your turn! Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verbs SER or ESTAR.

2. Fill in the blanks

Let’s complete the following sentences with the forms of SER or ESTAR in the preterite perfect, preterite indefinite or preterite imperfect tense.

3. Group by Significance

Group the following attributes under ‘ser’ or ‘estar’.

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