Spanish lesson 1: Ser/Estar

Ser, Estar

“Ser” and “estar” are two essential verbs in the Spanish language, and they both mean “to be.” However, they are used in different contexts and have distinct meanings and implications.

1. “Ser”:

  • Definition: “Ser” is used to express inherent characteristics, identity, origin, and permanent attributes. It’s used for things that don’t typically change.

  • Examples:

    • “Soy un diseñador gráfico.” (I am a graphic designer.) – This is your identity, a permanent characteristic.
    • “Ella es de España.” (She is from Spain.) – This indicates her origin, which doesn’t change.
    • “El cielo es azul.” (The sky is blue.) – Describing an inherent characteristic of the sky.

2. “Estar”:

  • Definition: “Estar” is used to express temporary states, conditions, emotions, locations, and actions that are in progress. It’s used for things that can change over time.

  • Examples:

    • “Estoy cansado.” (I am tired.) – Your tiredness is temporary; it can change.
    • “Estamos en la tienda.” (We are in the store.) – This indicates your current location, which can change.
    • “Ella está feliz.” (She is happy.) – Emotions are temporary states.


In summary, “ser” is for permanent characteristics and identity, while “estar” is for temporary states and conditions. The choice between them can significantly alter the meaning of a sentence. Understanding when to use each one is essential for clear communication in Spanish.

You can use the acronym “DOCTOR” for “ser” (Description, Occupation, Characteristic, Time, Origin, Relationship) and “PLACE” for “estar” (Position, Location, Action, Condition, Emotion), which can be helpful in remembering when to use each verb.


  • Yo soy
  • Tú eres
  • Él/Ella/Usted es
  • Nosotros/Nosotras somos
  • Vosotros/Vosotras sois
  • Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes son


  • Description
  • Occupsation
  • Characteristic
  • Time
  • Origin
  • Relationship


  • Yo estoy
  • Tú estás
  • Él/Ella/Usted está
  • Nosotros/Nosotras estamos
  • Vosotros/Vosotras estáis
  • Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes están


  • Position
  • Location
  • Action
  • Condition
  • Emotion