Ser or Estar


 
When you must use ser
A - When "to be" is followed by a noun

Mi hermana es directora.
My sister is a director.

Es un coche.
It's a car.

B - With times, dates and numbers

Son las tres de la mañana.
It's 3 in the morning.

Es el cinco de mayo.
It's the 5th of May.

¿Cuánto es?
How much is it?

 

When you must use estar
A - When talking about POSITION (be it temporary or permanent)

¿Dondé están los baños?
Where are the toilets?

Juan estuvo en la playa ayer.
Juan was at the beach yesterday.


 

When "to be" is used with an Adjective, then use ser for PERMANENT and estar for TEMPORARY
A - Ser for PERMANENT characterstic or quality

Mi tío es calvo.
My uncle is bold.

Ella es callada.
She is quiet. (She is always quiet)

B - Estar for TEMPORARY descriptions

La bolsa está vacia.
The bag is empty.

La casa está muy sucia.
The house is very dirty.

C - Compare the following...

Mi hija es guapa.
My daughter is beautiful.

Hoy, mi hija está guapa.
Today, My daughter is looking extra beautiful.


El chico es pálido.
The boy has pale skin.

El chico está pálido.
The boy is looking pale. (Hes seems unwell)


 

When "to be" is used with a Past Partiple, then use ser for ACTION and estar for STATE
A - Ser for ACTION

Cuba fue descubierta en 1492.
Cuba was discovered in 1492.

El niño fue herido en un accidente.
The chid was hurt in an accident.

B - Estar for STATE

La puerta está abierta.
The door is open.

Alejando y Cynthia están casados.
Alejandro and Cynthia are married.

C - Compare the following...

Está aburrido.
He's bored.

Es aburrido
He's boring.


 



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Practice:  Ser or Estar


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