"To be" in Spanish. "Ser" or "estar". Which one to use.

"To be" in Spanish. "Ser" or "estar". Which one to use.

This is a classic question, quite easy in theory and not so easy in practice!
Both ser and estar mean "to be", which is such an important verb! But they are used in different contexts:

Usually we can say that ser is permanent and estar is temporary, but sometimes that's not enough to get it right. Let's see a couple more things that will help us out and let's go through some examples together:


We use this verb when we talk about things that are:
- Not likely to change frequently
- Qualities, professions, family and friendship.


  • Marta es rubia y alta - Marta is blond and tall.
  • Pepe es mi tío - Pepe is my uncle.
  • El hotel era grande y antiguo - The hotel was big and old.
  • Creo que es muy buena idea - I think it's a very good idea.
  • Su novio es muy amable pero un poco celoso - Her/his boyfriend is very kind but a little bit jealous.


We use it to talk about things that are:
- Quite or very temporary
- States, feelings, locations and marital status (married,single...but not widow/er).


  • El agua está muy fría - The water is very cold (it can be warmer later).
  • Mi padre estaba muy enfadado - My dad was very angry (not permanently, feeling).
  • Carmen está en el cine - Carmen is in the cinema (location, "where" she is).
  • El vaso está roto - The glass is broken (it hasn't been broken all the time, it's the current state of the glass).
  • Mi casa está lejos de aquí - My house is far away from here (location).
  • Estoy orgullosa y contenta hoy - I'm proud and happy today (temporary state or feeling).
  • La habitación está ordenada pero los platos están sucios todavía - The bedroom is tidy but the dishes are still dirty (temporary state).
  • El Coliseo está en Roma - The Coliseum is in Rome (location).

¡Y eso ES todo! / That is all!

Now test yourself with this little task:

Select "ser" o "estar" for each sentence:

Note: First word in brackets comes from the verb "ser" and second from "estar". All of the options are in the present tense.
Ready? Go!

1- ______ el príncipe de España - I'm the prince of Spain. [Soy / Estoy]
2- El mercado ______ lejos de aquí - The market is far away from here [Es / está]
3- Mi padre _______ muy enfadado después de la disputa - My dad is very angry after the argument [Es / está].
4- El vaso _____ lleno de agua - The glass is full of water [Es / esta]
5- ________ tan felices! - We're so happy! [Somos / estamos]
6- Tus tíos _____ muy divertidos- Your uncle and aunt are very fun [Son, están]
7- El Big Ben _____ en Londres - The Big Ben is in London [Es / está]

. . .

Soluciones / Solutions:

¿ESTÁS listo para usar "ser" y "estar"? / Are you ready to use "ser" and "estar"?