Lesson 6 of 15: Ser vs Estar – Spanish in 30 min a Day

ser vs estar lesson

Today we’re going to cover one topic you NEED to know in order to be understood in Spanish.

And one topic very difficult for English speakers to grasp.

The “to be” verb in Spanish… actually, there’s two, when in Engish there is only one…

Ser vs Estar = to be

Seris basically used to express something permanent, or characteristics of something that don’t change quickly.

For instance…

I am American.  = Soy Americano.

I am a man.  = Soy hombre.

Estar is used to express the location of something or describe characteristics of something that can easily and quickly change.

For example…

I am hot.  = Estoy con calor.

I am in Ecuador.  = Estoy en Ecuador.

Now there’s one usage of “estar” that’s a bit hard to grasp…

We use “estar” when we describe something or someone we see or meet for the first time… for example…

She is cute. = Ella está buena.

These two verbs are used SO MUCH it’s worth it taking a few minutes and memorizing the conjugations of them in the present and past, then practice using them in the following exercise.


(present tense)

I am = yo soy
You are = tú eres
He/she is = él/ella es
we are = nosotros somos
they are = ellos/ellas son

(past tense)

I was = yo fui
You were = tú fuiste
He/she was = él/ella fue
we were = nosotros fuimos
they were = ellos/ellas fueron

(present tense)

I am = yo estoy
You are = tú estás
He/she is = él/ella está
we are = nosotros estamos
they are = ellos/ellas están

(past tense)

I was = yo estaba
You were = tú estabas
He/she was = él/ella estaba
we were = nosotros estabamos
they were = ellos/ellas estaban

EXERCISE: Use the conjugated form of ser or estar in the past or present depending on the sentence…

1. I was happy.  Yo ____ contento.

2. I am from Canada.  Yo ___ de Canada.

3. You were in school yesterday.  Tú _____ en la escuela ayer.

4. He was sad yesterday.  Él _____ triste ayer.

5. She is beautiful.  Ella ______ hermosa.

6. He is cheap.  Él ____ tacaño.

7. I was tired last night.  Yo _____ cansado anoche.

8. I am in love with Tomás.  Yo _____ enamorado con Tomás.

1. estaba
2. soy
3. estabas
4. estaba
5. es
6. es
7. estaba
8. estoy

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