ser vs. estar


“Ser bueno” and “Estar bueno”: not the same thing? 1

“Ser” and “estar” are not the same thing, as the Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz tells us is his song “No es lo mismo” (here you can have a look at the lyrics in Spanish and its translation into English)

 

In a previous post, I wrote about the differences between “bien, bueno/a” and when to use one or the other. In another previous blog post I wrote about the million dollar question, the differences between “ser” and “estar”. In this one, I am going to combine both questions and shed some light on them. Don’t need to thank me now, guys, I’m here to help… 😉

Ok, here we go!

SER BUENO vs. ESTAR BUENO

– Ser bueno:

1. Talking about a person: ‘virtuous, upright

– Mi hijo es muy bueno, siempre se porta muy bien.
– My son is very upright, he always behaves.

2. Talking about a thing: ‘of good quality’, ‘beneficial

– Mi cazadora de cuero es buena, me costó carísima.
– My leather jacket is of good quality, it was very expensive.

– Hacer deporte es bueno.
– Sport is good for you.

– Estar bueno:

1. Talking about a person: ‘being healthy or very handsome

– Juan Diego Botto está muy bueno.
– Juan Diego Botto is very handsome.

2. Talking about food: ‘having a good taste

– Esta sopa está muy buena.
– This soup is very tasty.

SER MALO vs. ESTAR MALO

– Ser malo:

1. Referred to a person: ‘being evil, wicked

– Norman Bates es malo, malísmo.
– Norman Bates is evil, very evil.

2. Talking about a thing or an action: ‘of bad quality’ or ‘ harmful

– Este libro es muy malo, no pude terminar de leerlo.
– This book is very bad, I couldn’t even finishing reading it.

– Fumar es malo para la salud.
– Smoking is bad for you.

– Estar malo:

1. Talking about a person: ‘being sick, ill

– Hoy no voy a trabajar porque estoy malo.
– I am not going to work today because I am sick.

2. Referred to a food: ‘rotten‘.

– Esta manzana está mala, dáme otra.
– This apple is rotten, give me another one.

A VERY USEFUL LIST

Now, there are many other adjectives that change meaning depending on if they are with “ser” or “estar. Let’s see some of them and learn some new vocabulary and expressions.

+ SER + ESTAR 
aburrido'boring'
- Este libro es muy aburrido .
- This book is very boring.
aburrido'bored'
- Estoy aburrida hoy, la clase es un tostón.
- I am bored, today's class is a drag.
atento'thoughtful, courteous'
- Mi novio es muy atento, siempre me trae flores por mi cumpleaños.
- My boyfriend is very courteous, he always brings me flowers for my birthday.
atento'attentive'
- Tengo que estar más atenta en clase.
- I need to be more attentive in class.
despierto'bright, sharp'
- Es un niño muy despierto.
- He is a very sharp boy'
despierto'not sleep'
- Estoy despierta desde las 7 am.
- I am awake since 7 am.
verde'green color', 'sexual'
- El vestido es verde.
- The dress is green.
- Es un chiste un poco verde.
- It's a blue joke.
verde'unripe, immature, not ready'
- La manzana está verde
- The apple is green.
- Aún estoy muy verde para presentarme al examen.
- I am not ready yet to do the exam.
negro'black color'
- No me gusta el negro.
- I don't like black.
black'being angry'
- Estoy negra, se me ha roto el coche dos veces en una semana.
- I'm furious, my car broke twice in a week.
orgulloso'arrogant'
- Sofía es demasiado orgullosa, no me gusta.
- Sofia is too arrogant, I don't like her.
orgulloso'pleased'
- Estoy muy contenta con el resultado.
- I'm very pleased with the outcome.
listo'smart, intelligent'
- Este chico es muy listo, llegará lejos.
- This boy is very smart, he will go a long way.
listo'ready'
- ¡Espérame, no estoy lista!
- Wait, I'm not ready!
claro'light, pale'
- No me gustan los colores tan claros.
- I don't like such light colors.
claro'obvious, clear'
- Está claro que no es el culpable.
- It's obvious he's not guilty.
abierto'extroverted'
- Ella es muy abierta, habla con todo el mundo.
- She is very outgoing, she talks with every body.
abierto'open'
- La puerta está abierta.
- The door is open.

 

Note: 

Much of the above type and style of clarifications, grammar, and other tricky elements are now covered in Compass Spanish (a new course comprised of daily mini-lessons delivered straight to your inbox). If you struggle to find the time or have a busy schedule, try out a free week (no strings attached and no credit card required!).


“Ser” or “Estar”: the answer 2

One of the most difficult things of learning Spanish is that there are two verbs that are the equivalent of the verb “to be”, these two verbs are “ser” and “estar“. The uses of these two verbs is quite a complex thing that could be the subject of a whole thesis and still there would be unexplained nuances left.

The good news is that I’m going to give you the answer. I’ll explain you what you need to know in order to have a very good understanding of how these two verbs are used.

  • First difference: condition vs. essence

Look at these sentences:

1. This apple is green, it hasn’t fall from the tree yet.

2. This apple is green and the other is red.

As you can see this two sentences have different meanings even though they use the same words. The first sentence talks about the condition of the apple, it’s green, it’s not ripe but when the time passes the apple will no longer be green but ripe. Whereas in sentence number two, the verb is talking about an essential characteristic of the apple, its color is green and this color won’t change with the time.

In Spanish we use estar” to express the condition, something that is variable or might change with time, whereas we use ser” with the essential characteristics.

1. Esta manzana está verde, aún no ha caído del árbol.

2. Esta manzana es verde y la otra es roja.

One thing you can do to know which verb you should use in Spanish is ask “how that thing is?” or “what something is?”. If you use the the first question then you need to use “estar“, if you use the second, then you need to use “ser“.

Poner ejemplos:

  • Second difference: express origin, location and “take place”

Look at these sentences:

– Pierce Brosnan is Irish.
Pierce Brosnan es irlandés.

– The Blarney Stone is in Ireland.
La piedra de Blarney está en Irlanda.

– The Leperchaun party is in the Irish forests.
La fiesta de los Leperchaun es en los bosques irlandeses.

The first sentence express origin, where someone or something comes from we use “ser“, to express location, where someone or something is placed / located we use “estar” and to express where something takes place we use “ser“.

  • Other differences and review

SER 

  • Identify.

Esto es un ordenador portátil.
– This is laptop.

  • To say the nationality or place of origin and the profession.

Mi novio es suizo y es médico.
– My boyfriend is swiss and is a doctor.

  • To talk about the essential characteristics of a thing, person or place.

Esta ciudad es muy grande, tiene una superficie de 1.500 km2.
– This city is very big, the surface is 1.500 Km2.

  • To say the time and a period of time.

Son las 4 de la mañana. ¡Déjame dormir!
– It’s 4 am. Let me sleep!

  • To talk about where a event takes place.

– La conferencia de antropología es en la Universidad de Durham.
– The anthropology lecture takes place is Durham University.

ESTAR

  • To locate things, places or people.

– La Torre Eiffel está en París.
– The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.

  • To talk about a physical state or a state of mind.

Mi jefe está muy gordo y su mujer está muy contenta.
– My boss is very fat and his wife is very happy.

  • Indicate the result of an action or process.

La comida que has preparado está muy sabrosa.
– The food you prepared is very tasty.

  • + gerondif: to express an action in course, developing.

Estoy estudiando español para mi examen.
– I’m studying Spanish for my exam.

  • Before “bien” and “mal”.

Estoy mal, me duele la cabeza. ¿Y tú cómo estás? Yo estoy bien.
– I feel bad, I have a headache. ¿And how are you? I am fine.

  • + de : to talk about a temporary job.

Estoy de cajera en un supermercado hasta que encuentre trabajo en un banco.
– I am working as a cashier in a supermarket until I find a job in a bank.

  • with 1st person of plural: situarnos en el tiempo to place us in the time

Estamos a lunes.
– It’s Monday.

 

Note: 

Much of the above type and style of clarifications, grammar, and other tricky elements are now covered in Compass Spanish (a new course comprised of daily mini-lessons delivered straight to your inbox). If you struggle to find the time or have a busy schedule, try out a free week (no strings attached and no credit card required!).