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Spanish Lesson Eight: Ser Vs. Estar

Updated on July 30, 2012

Before You Read

It's Sunday again!! This week we're going to be on lesson eight. Oh my goodness, how the time flies!! I hope you guys have been learning Spanish "A Little At A Time". So in a few weeks I'll be posting a quiz for all you guys to complete and see if you've retained anything. If you need assistance, feel free to contact me!

These lessons are meant to be short and help you gain a steady fluency in the Spanish language. For those of you who have been reading, I hope you have found this information useful and are indeed retaining some of it. For those of you joining in for the first time, take a look at the previous lessons you've missed. The link is below.

Last week we learned about Essential and Irregular verbs. I really hope you learned some pertinent information from that lesson and will continue to learn with this one. Go back to previous lessons for a recap on all that we've learned so far. Also we're going to be discussing Ser so you probably go back to Lesson Four: Sentence Structure and Rhetoric to review the conjugation of Ser.

Previous Lessons

Today's Vocabulary

Today we are discussing Ser Vs. Estar. If you don't recall, Ser and Estar both mean "to be" however each of these words specify certain things and words that accompany them can have a change in meaning. Today's vocabulary will feature adjectives that have dual meanings depending upon the use of Ser or Estar. As usual there will be twenty words to look at and their meaning will be divided between Ser and Estar. Take a look!

11. Ser moreno/estar moreno- to be dark-haired/to be suntanned

12. Ser atento/estar atento- to be courteous/to be attentive

13. Ser fresco/estar fresco- to be fresh

14. Ser orgulloso/estar orgulloso- to be proud (sometimes snobby)/to be proud (in a nice way)

15. Ser loco/estar loco- to be scatter-brained/to be insane

16. Ser divertido/estar divertido- To be funny/to be amused

17. Ser guapo/estar guapo- To be handsome/to look handsome

18. Ser bonito/estar bonito- To be pretty/to look pretty

19. Ser feo/estar feo- To be ugly/to look ugly

20. Ser despierto/estar despierto- To be alert or sharp/to be awake

1. Ser aburrido/estar aburrido- to be boring/to be bored

2. Ser listo/estar listo- to be clever/to be ready

3. Ser malo/estar malo- to be bad/to be ill

4. Ser rico/estar rico- to be rich/to be tasty

5. Ser vivo/estar vivo- to be sharp/to be alive

6. Ser viejo/estar viejo- to be old/to look old

7. Ser pesado/estar pesado- to be heavy/to be tiresome

8. Ser verde/estar verde- to breen/to be unripe

9. Ser grave/estar grave- to be serious/to be seriously ill

10. Ser seguro/estar seguro- to be safe/to be sure or certain


Read the following chart on how to conjugate the verb Estar before moving onto the lesson. Also go back and read the the conjugation of Ser if you've forgotten.

He/She/You (Formal)
They (Informlal)/They (Formal)
Ellos or Ellas/Ustedes

Ser Vs. Estar

Alright so that vocabulary list looks a bit difficult right? Some words change meanings when using Ser and when using estar. It's going to be hard to remember these so I really suggest using the ser versions of all of these words until you are really ready to understand how Ser and Estar mean "to be" but have completely different connotations. Below I am going to explain the difference between the two as they each account particular characteristics.

Ser means "to be" just like Estar does and it should be used when discussing the following things.

  • Personality or Physical description: When describing a person, Ser is always the verb of choice. Many of the adjectives in your vocabulary list pertain to personality or physical features. Take note of these. Ugly, fat, thin, smart, wise, serious... these are personal things about a person. Use Ser when describing a person. Soy alto (I am tall).
  • Occupation: Ser is used to describe things that are considered permanent. Your occupation can change, but is considered permanent until you change it. If you are a doctor. You will say yo soy un doctor (I am a doctor).
  • Time: Whenever you tell the time or what time of day it is, you will always use Ser to describe it. Hoy is lunes (Today is Monday).
  • Origin: Where you are from is a permanent thing. Yo soy de los estados unidos (I am from the United States).
  • Relationship: Although relationships can change with friends, relationships are considered permanent and never changing. Also your family cannot change. El muchacho es mi nieto (the boy is my grandson).

Estar generally focuses on the mainly temporary aspects of life. Anything that is not permanent and has the possibility to change will be expressed using estar.

  • Position: Position means physical position and posture of a thing or person. If you are sitting down on a chair, that is expressed by use of estar. Estoy sentado (I am seated).
  • Location: Location means exactly what is says. Where are you now? Your location changes from time to time so you must use estar to describe that. Estoy en la bibliotéca (I am in the library).
  • Action: What you are doing now is described by a gerund just like in the English language. You use estar + gerund to describe that the subject is currently doing. Estoy Leyendo (I am reading).
  • State of Being: What I mean by state of being is how do you feel mentally or emotionally. If you are tired, frustrated, sick, nauseous, etc. These will be described by used estar before the adjective. Estoy enfermo (I am sick)


Your homework for today is watch the video below that corresponds with Lesson Four: Sentence Structure and Rhetoric. It's a short video I found on Youtube and will help you guys recall gender in Spanish nouns. Take a look!!

Also in the coming lessons we will be discussing a great deal more about grammar and how to say things such as:

  • What Are You Going To Do?
  • What Do You Have To Do?
  • What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
  • What Do You Like And Dislike?
  • And more...

Also I have some great themes lined up for the future, so stay tuned!! Have a great night everyone!!


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    • CrazedNovelist profile imageAUTHOR

      AE Williams 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Awww!! Gracias Joseph! Estoy contento que sea facil para todos. :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      6 years ago from New York

      Hola Crazed, This was easy for us! You have broken it down like a pro!

    • CrazedNovelist profile imageAUTHOR

      AE Williams 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I totally forgot the chart for Estar... It's been added!! Sorry!

    • CrazedNovelist profile imageAUTHOR

      AE Williams 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks so much Jd!! I appreciate your visit and your support. I'm slowly getting down the format I want, though it's constantly changing (for the better I hope). I look forward to see you around!!


    • jdnyc profile image


      6 years ago from California

      Great hub! I like the idea of your series as a way to "slowly" learn the language! And focusing on a topic like this still gives you a chance to learn other vocabulary through your sentence examples.

    • CrazedNovelist profile imageAUTHOR

      AE Williams 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks so much!! I'm at the point now where I have to really think of the best way to explain things, because Spanish has so many words that can have different connotations. I speak a good bit and sometimes people are like "I don't get it" so I have to remember how I was taught it. I know all of this in my head, but it's hard to get it on paper for other people to read. So I really appreciate your comment so glad my explanation was well done! Thanks MotherbyNature!!

    • Motherbynature profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      You do a great job explaining this. The way I remember the difference between SER and ESTAR is that SER is a permanent/semi-permanent state: "Yo soy una mujer morenita". ESTAR is a temporary present state: "Yo estoy mirando una novella". Usually SER does not apply to an action or something you are doing. There are exceptions to that but when I'm about to say something I always think and ask myself if I'm about to tell someone about what I am doing. If not, I use SER.

      But then, I speak a mixture of street Spanish (Mexican American, Central American) and proper Queen's Spanish. It's very... colorful. LOL


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