Ser vs Estar: Specific Uses

Easy Spanish Grammar


Welcome to one more post of the Spanish Grammar for English Speakers series!

Let's get this party started

As promised, we’re going to complete the ser vs estar sub-series with a post on the specific uses of these very important Spanish verbs.

The most important uses are the following ones:


Specific things, people, and places: verb estar –> ¿Dónde está tu madre? Mi madre está en casa. (Where’s your mother? – My mother is at home) BUT Specific events: verb ser –> ¿Dónde es la fiesta? – La fiesta es en un bar (Where’s the party? - The party is at a bar).

Time reference

Verb ser: ¿Qué hora es? ¿Qué día es hoy? ¿Cuándo fue tu boda? (What time is it? What day is it today? When was your wedding?).

Identification, origin, occupation, possession

Verb ser: Esta es mi amiga Sara. Mi vecino es de Venezuela. Su novio es policía. Este es mi teléfono (This is my friend Sara. My neighbour is from Venezuela. His boyfriend is a police officer. This is my phone).


Verb ser —> paying total amount ¿Cuánto es? (How much is it?) Verb estar —> variable price ¿A cuánto está? (How much does it cost?)

Auxiliary verbs

Progressive structures: estar + gerund —> Estoy comiendo paella (I’m eating paella). Passive voice: ser + past participle —> Este edificio fue construido hace dos años (This building was built two years ago).

Remember that verb tenses (present, past, future, conditional, etc) don’t modify the meaning of verbs; they only specify the time when the actions take place.

E.g. ¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños? (When is your birthday? / General action : present indicative) vs. ¿Cuándo fue tu fiesta de cumpleaños? (When was your birthday party?

Finished action in the past: indefinite past): same meaning (time reference) vs. different tense (present / past).

Super easy! 😉

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More on ser vs estar:

¡Feliz aprendizaje!

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