Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between Ser and Estar

Learning Spanish is a great way to learn the culture. It also gives you the opportunity to meet and communicate with various types of people. However, like most foreign languages there are terms that often confuse learners. Ser and estar are two examples.

The Spanish terms ser and estar both mean “to be,” but they are used in different ways.

Difference between Ser and Estar

What is Ser?

Ser is used when talking about essential qualities or attributes that are lasting or permanent.  It is used to:

  • Describe people using names, physical qualities, or nationalities.
  • Talk about how someone makes a living or how someone spends his or her time.
  • Talk about time, including hours, dates, days, and years
  • Refer to origin or source of a person or thing
  • Talk about relationship ties

What is Estar?

Estar is used when talking about temporary conditions or states as well as locations. Specifically, estar is used to:

  • Talk about the posture or physical location of a person or thing
  • Indicate location whether it is conceptual, permanent, or temporary
  • Refer to ongoing actions
  • Talk about mental and physical conditions
  • Talk about emotions

Summary of uses:

Ser Estar
Uses Used when describing:

-People (names, physical qualities, nationalities)

-A person’s job or how someone spends his or her time

-Time (hours, days, dates, years)

-Origin or source of a person or thing

-Relationship ties

Used when describing:

-Posture or physical location of a person or thing

-Location of a person or thing (conceptual, permanent, temporary)

-Ongoing actions (progressive tense)

-Mental or physical locations

-Emotions

You may have heard the oversimplification that “ser” is used when talking about things that are permanent while “estar” is used when referring to things that are temporary. However, this generalization can lead to mistakes, especially since there will be many exceptions if you follow it as a rule.


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References :


[0]Hilder, R. “The Ser vs. Estar Question: To Be or to Be?” Fluent U. Web. 5 Jan. 18.

[1]Hilder, R. “The Ser vs. Estar Question: To Be or to Be?” Fluent U. Web. 5 Jan. 18.

[2]“Ser vs Estar: The Definitive Guide to Spanish’s Most Testing Verbs.” Real Fast Spanish. Web. 5 Jan. 18.

[3]“Ser and Estar: Part I.” Study Spanish. Web. 5 Jan. 18.

[4]"Image Credit: http://www.oscostarica.com/a-verb-with-two-faces/"

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