For the English word „to be“ there are two translations in Spanish, ser and estar. In this unit, you will learn in which cases each verb is used. In general, it can be said that ser is mainly used to describe permanent qualities, professions, and relationshipsEstar, on the other hand, is used more for temporary states.

Before you learn the use cases of the two verbs in detail, see below how they are conjugated in the most important tenses.


yo soy era fui seré
eres eras fuiste serás
él es era fue será
nosotros somos éramos fuimos seremos
vosotros sois erais fuisteis seréis
ellos son eran fueron serán


Subject Presente Imperfecto Indefinido Futuro
yo estoy estaba estuve estaré
estás estabas estuviste estarás
él/ella/usted está estaba estuvo estará
nosotros estamos estábamos estuvimos estaremos
vosotros estáis estabais estuvisteis estaréis
ellos están estaban estuvieron estarán


Below are the different use cases of each verb with some examples.


  • Definitions and identification (permanent properties and affiliations like nationality, religion…) 
Yo soy Ignacio. (I am Ignacio.)
Es un hombre de 26 años. (He is a 26 year old man.)
  • Appearance and character traits


Sebastián es muy alto. (Sebastián is very tall.)

Sara es muy simpática. (Sara is very sympathetic.)

  • Family and other personal relationships


Nosotros somos amigos. (We are friends.)

Miguel es mi hermano. (Miguel is my brother.)

  • Profession


Esteban es bombero. (Esteban is a firefighter.)

  • Where/when something takes place


El partido es en Berlín. (The match is in Berlin.)

La reunión es el jueves. (The meeting is on Thursday.)

  • Indication of day/date/season/time


Hoy es lunes. (Today is Monday.)

Hoy es 25 de Marzo. (Today is March 25.)

Es verano. (It’s summer.)

Son las siete en punto. (It is 7 o’clock.)

  • Progressive passive


La comida es preparada por el chef. (The food is being prepared by the chef.)

  • Material, affiliation, origin (with the preposition de)


El anillo es de oro. (The ring is made of gold.)

El juguete es de mi hermana. (The toy is from my sister.)

El señor es de Lima. (The man comes from Lima.)

  • In connection with time adverbs


En Santiago de Chile ya es noche. (In Santiago de Chile it is already nighttime.)

  • With the preposition para to indicate recipient or purpose


Ese anillo es para mi novia. (This ring is for my girlfriend.)

Esa aplicación es para practicar español. (This application is for practicing Spanish.)

  • Price quotation


Son 14 Euros. (It is 14 Euros.)


  • Temporary property (state of mind, health condition, appearance)


María está preocupada por el examen. (Maria is worried because of the exam.)

Danilo está un poco enfermo. (Danilo is a little sick.)

Yo estoy muy moreno. (I am very tanned.)

  • Where something is located


La estación está en el centro. (The station is in the center.)

  • How someone/something seems


Mi abuela de 84 años está muy joven. (My 84-year-old grandmother is very young.)

  • Marital status


Estoy soltero. (I’m single.)

Estoy casado. (I’m married.)

But: Soy viudo. (I’m widowed.)

  • Day/date/time of year (but not time) in the 1st person plural (with preposition a/en)


Estamos a lunes. (We are on Monday.)

Estamos a 13 de Julio. (We are on July 13.)

Estamos en otoño. (We are in autumn.)

  • State passive


La comida ya está preparada. (The food is prepared already.)

  • The way in which something was produced


El anillo está fabricado en oro. (The ring is manufactured in gold.)

El juguete está hecho de papel. (The toy is made of paper.)

El anillo está bañado en plata. (The ring is silver plated.)

  • In connection with modal adverbs


Está bien irse de vacaciones una vez al año. (It’s good to go on vacation once a year.)

  • with the preposition de + noun, to express states or situations


Jorge está de mal humor. (Jorge is in a bad mood.)

Sebastián está de camarero en Mallorca ahora. (Sebastian is now working as a waiter in Mallorca.)

  • Price quotation (question about the instantaneous price)


El kilo está a 7 euros. (The kilo is at 7 euros.)

  • Temporal progressive form: estar + gerundio


Estamos jugando al tenis. (We are playing tennis.)