To be or to be: ser vs. estar Conversa blog

To Be or To Be: Ser vs. Estar

Ser vs. estar, one of the main grammatical components of A1 Spanish courses, might seem intimidating at first, but it’s not as scary as it looks. However, once you remember the rules on when to use each one, it’ll start feeling natural to you. Pay attention to the following tips to help you use ser and estar like a pro!

Ser- relatively permanent traits

Although there are exceptions, the verb ser is usually used for traits that are relatively permanent. There’s a handy acronym to help you- D.O.C.T.O.R.

Date: Es el 29 de junio.

Occupation: Soy médica.

Characteristics: eres alto.

Time: Son las 4 de la tarde.

Origin: Sois de Chicago.

Relation: Ustedes son hermanos, ¿no?

For the most part, these are all characteristics that don’t really change, so we consider them to be relatively permanent. Time and date can seem a bit tricky because, don’t they change? To help you, you can think about how the calendar and the clock don’t change, even though the current date/time change.

Estar- relatively temporary

On the other hand, estar is used for things that are relatively temporary. When in doubt, you can think of the phrase, “For how you feel and where you are, always use the verb estar.” This is a simplified phrase to help you remember its acronym- P.L.A.C.E.

Position: El perro está cerca de la puerta.

Location: Chicago está en los Estados Unidos.

Action: Morgan está trabajando.

Condition: Mi casa está organizada.

Emotion: Yo estoy muy contenta.

Once you master these basics, you’ll be ready to move on to more advanced ideas, like exceptions to these rules, and scenarios when it gets a bit more tricky. In addition, in other tenses, it can make the differences between ser and estar seem more complicated. These rules we have you here form an important foundation for your Spanish journey.

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