How to use the verb 'to be' in Spanish by practising 'ser' and 'estar'

There are two verbs for 'to be' in Spanish, ser and estar, and they are used in different ways.

To be: 'ser' in the present tense

The verb ser is used to indicate:

Nationality

  • Soy inglés - I am English (masculine).
  • Soy española - I am Spanish (feminine).

Where you are from

  • ¿De dónde eres? - Where are you from?
  • Soy de Inglaterra y soy inglesa - I am from England and I am English (feminine).

Professions

  • Mi madre es médica - My mother is a doctor.
  • Mi hermano es profesor - My brother is a teacher.

The date

  • ¿Qué día es hoy? - What is the date?
  • Hoy es el treinta y uno de julio - Today is the 31st July.

The time

  • ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?
  • Son las once y media - It's half past eleven.

Characteristics of people or things

  • ¿Cómo eres? - What do you look like?

  • Soy alta y llevo gafas - I am tall and I wear glasses.

'Mi hermanastra es ingeniera.' Use the verb 'ser' when talking about jobs

The table below shows the different parts of ser for different people or things. Can you use them to give more information about yourself or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
soyI am
eresyou are
eshe/she/it is

'Ser' in the past tense

To talk about the past, the imperfect tense of the verb ser is very useful. It helps you describe what things were like or what they used to be like.

For example:

  • La película era muy graciosa - The film was very funny.
  • ¿Qué deportes hacías cuando eras más joven? - What sports did you do when you were younger?
  • Cuando era más joven, jugaba al tenis - When I was younger, I used to play tennis.

This table gives the verb ser in the past tense for different people and things. Can you use the different forms of the verb to give more information about yourself, or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
eraI was/used to be
erasyou were/used to be
erahe/she/it was/used to be

'Ser' in the future tense

Use the immediate future tense to say what someone or something is going to be like.

For example:

  • La semana que viene voy a visitar Londres. Va a ser muy divertido - Next week I am going to visit London. It is going to be very fun.
  • El programa va a ser bastante aburrido - The programme is going to be quite boring.
  • Voy a ser más alto que mi padre - I am going to be taller than my father.

This table gives the verb ser in the future tense for different people and things.

Can you use the different forms of the verb to give more information about yourself, or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
voy a serI am going to be
vas a seryou are going to be
va a serhe/she/it is going to be

To be: 'Estar' in the present tense

The verb estar is used to indicate:

Where something is located

  • ¿Dónde está el libro? - Where is the book?
  • El libro está en la mesa - The book is on the table.

Feelings and emotions and saying how you are

  • ¿Cómo estás? - How are you?
  • Estoy muy bien, gracias - I am very well, thank you.

The condition of someone or something

  • Mi hermana está enferma - My sister is ill.

  • El coche está roto - The car is broken.

'Mi teléfono está roto'. Use the verb 'estar' to talk about the condition of someone or something

This table gives the verb estar for different people and things. Can you use the different forms of the verb to give more information about yourself, or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
estoyI am
estásyou are
estáhe/she/it is

'Estar' in the past tense

Use the imperfect tense of estar to describe what, how or where someone or something was.

For example:

  • Estaba en la calle - I was in the street.
  • Mi madre estaba contenta - My mother was happy.

This table gives the verb estar in the past tense for different people. Can you use the different forms of the verb to give more information about yourself, or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
estabaI was/used to be
estabasyou were/used to be
estabahe/she/it was/used to be

'Estar' in the future tense

Use the immediate future tense of estar to say what or how someone or something is going to or will be.

For example:

  • ¿Vas a estar en casa más tarde? - Are you going to be at home later?
  • ¿Dónde vas a estar a las tres? - Where are you going to be at three o´clock?
  • Voy a estar en la cafetería - I am going to be in the café.

This table gives the verb estar in the future tense for different people. Can you use the different forms of the verb to give more information about yourself, or someone or something you know?

SpanishEnglish
voy a estarI am going to be
vas a estaryou are going to be
va a estarhe/she/it is going to be

Find out how much you know about the verb 'to be' in Spanish with this activity!

Quiz

Find out how much you know about the verb 'to be' in Spanish with this short quiz!

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