How To Use ‘Estar’ In The Spanish Language

This week we are going to cover the Spanish verb ESTAR which means to be, see last week´s article for the verb ´to be´ if you´re not sure which one it is. You can always check out my articles online at if you miss a week.
So the verb estar is an irregular verb just like it´s counterpart SER, so here is how it conjugates: yo estoy, tú estás, él/ella/usted está, nosotros/as estamos, vosotros/as estáis, ellos/ellas/ustedes están. We use ESTAR normally when talking about temporary situations, and in most cases it´s about how we are feeling. One of the most common expressions we use is ´¿cómo estás? Which means ´how are you?´ and we usually answer with ´estoy bien´ – I´m fine. Or when speaking we can tend to miss out the verb altogether and just say ´bien´ although not grammatically correct it´s acceptable as we know what it means and to whom we are referring.

So we should be ok with generally temporary conditions. For example, the sky is normally blue so if it is we use ser but if it´s grey or orange we would use estar, because it´s not how we think of it normally. The same goes for a yellow banana (ser) and when it goes black we use estar. Feelings are obviously temporary; feliz, triste, enfermo, emocianado (excited) are all temporary situations which use estar whereas; alto, bajo, gordo, delgado, etc are all physical conditions that will not change and so use ser.

There are some adjectives which change what you´re saying depending on whether you use ser or estar and once you see a couple, I hope you realize that the difference is quite obvious. For example, the word aburrido means bored or boring depending on which verb you use, the adjective doesn´t change, therefore if you say eres aburrido, which adjective are you using – bored or boring? Have a think for a minute before reading on.

That´s right, because you´re putting it into a permanent state you are saying ´you are a boring person´. However if you say ´estoy aburrido´ you are saying ´I´m bored´. There are a few adjectives that work in that way so be careful, some of the most common are: listo: ser – clever, estar – ready, malo: ser – bad, estar – ill, rico: ser – rich, estar – tasty.

As well as temporary situations we also use ESTAR for locations, whether temporary: el lapis está en la mesa or permanent Londres está en Inglaterra. This actually makes it easier for us to use because we are not trying to remember whether the location is a temporary one or not. So with every case of where something/someone is we use estar, but remember if we are saying where someone is from we use ser, so, estoy en la cocina, estoy en España, but soy de Inglaterra, eres de España.

There are some idiomatic expressions that use estar, some of the most useful are: estar de pie – standing, estar de acuerdo – to be in agreement, estar en camino – to be on the way, estar a gusto – to be comfortable/content with, estar a punto de – to be just about to, llegar a estar – to become. Try and think of some phrases you can use with the above expressions, remember all you do is change the verb to whoever you are talking about, for example, estoy de acuerdo – I agree, estoy a gusto en mi trabajo – I am happy with my job.

So we have had a run-down of two of the most useful verbs in the language and hopefully you may have learnt a few new uses of them even if you have a good level of Spanish.

Que tengas una buena semana, ¡hasta la próxima!

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