- Differences in Conjugation
- Differences in Use
- Change of Meaning with Adjectives
¿Soy de Colombia or estoy en Colombia? The verb to be in English can be translated into Spanish as ser or estar, so it can be very easy to confuse them. In this article, let's learn the differences between these two commonly used verbs.
En general soy alegre pero hoy estoy triste.
In general, I am cheerful, but today, I am sad.
Differences in Conjugation
Rule 1. The most noticeable difference between these two verbs is their conjugation. Below you will find a side-by-side comparison.
|Subject pronouns||Verb estar||Verb ser|
|él, ella, usted||es||está|
|ellos, ellas, ustedes||son||están|
Differences in Use
In terms of usage, these verbs express completely different functions and intentions and should not be used interchangeably.
Rule 2. Ser is used to speak of the origin, describe the inherent characteristics of someone or something, or tell the time. The rule of thumb is to relate the verb ser to states that tend to be more permanent.
Mi mamá es de Chile, ella es alta y morena.
My mom is from Chile, she is tall and brunette.
Rule 3. Estar is used to speak of emotional states, circumstances, or positions, and when forming the progressive tenses. The rule of thumb is to relate the verb estar to states that tend to be more temporal.
Estoy emocionado por que estoy visitando Argentina.
I am excited because I am visiting Argentina.
Change of Meaning with Adjectives
Rule 4. Sometimes, verbs ser and estar can be used with the same adjectives. However, the meaning of the adjective will change depending on which verb is used.
Estoy feliz porque estamos en mi restaurante favorito.
I am happy because we are at my favorite restaurant.
Soy feliz porque soy una persona optmisita.
I am happy because I am an optimistic person.
Although both verbs use the adjective feliz, the meaning of each sentence is different. In the first example, we are talking about a temporary state for a particular reason, while in the second example we are talking about a characteristic that is already part of this person's personality.
As you can see, by knowing the uses of each verb, it is easier to understand how they differ when used with the same adjective. Let's look at more examples:
- Ser bueno(a) vs. estar bueno(a)
El clima es bueno en esta ciudad.
The weather is good in this city.
El clima está bueno hoy.
The weather is nice today.
- Ser listo(a) vs. estar listo(a)
Mi perro es listo.
My dog is smart.
Mi perro está listo.
My dog is ready to go out.
- Ser despierto(a) vs. estar despierto(a)
Ese niño es muy despierto para su edad.
That kid is very bright for his age.
El niño ya está despierto.
The kid is already awake.
- Ser interesado(a) vs. estar interesado(a)
Su novio es muy interesado.
Her boyfriend is very self-interested.
Su novio está interesado en la oferta.
Her boyfriend is interested in the offer.
As you can see, while some adjectives completely change their meaning depending on the verb used, the change in the meaning of others is more related to the individual uses of each verb.
Ahora ________ en Argentina, pero yo vivo en Estados Unidos.