The Difference Between Ser and Estar in Spanish
In Spanish there are to different ways to express the English verb “to be”, ser and estar. Although they can both be translated the same in English they cannot be used interchangeably.
The differences between SER and ESTAR in Spanish are outlined below.
Ser – Use the mnemonic CORTO to help you remember when to use ser.
|C||characteristics – physical characteristics of people or objects as well as personality traits.|
|occupation – a person’s job or an object’s purpose / function|
|relationship – how people identify themselves in relation to others|
|time – date, hour and day|
|origin – where someone is from and matter from which objects are made|
Estar – Use the mnemonic PLACE to help you remember when to use estar.
|position – physical position or posture of an object|
|location – physical location of people or objects|
|action – actions that are in progress (present progressive)|
|condition – changeable states such as health|
|emotion – emotion that is a result of an outside condition, not a personality trait|
**One exception to the location rule is the location of events. In such cases, ser is used.
- La fiesta es en casa de mi amiga.
- El concierto es en el Teatro Central.
Ser vs. Estar
There are times when either ser or estar may both be used correctly. The meaning, however, will change.
Soy aburrido. I am boring. Estoy aburrido. I am bored
Ella es nerviosa. She is a nervous person. Ella está nerviosa. She is (feeling) nervous.
Él es guapo. He is good-looking. Él está guapo. He looks handsome.