To Be (ser y estar)

Form

Ser Estar
yo soy estoy
eres estás
él/ella/Ud. es está
nosotros/as somos estamos
vosotros/as sois estáis
ellos/ellas/Uds. son están

Uses of ser

  1. To indicate nationality or origin:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --David es de Tejas.
    David is from Texas.
  2. To describe intrinsic characteristics:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --Los árboles son altos.
    The trees are tall.
  3. To indicate dates and time:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --Hoy es lunes, 16 de septiembre y son las 11:30 de la mañana.
    Today is Monday, the 16th of September, and it is 11:30 in the morning.
  4. To form the passive voice with the past participle:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --El premio fue ortogado por el comité.
    The prize was awarded by the committee.

Uses of estar

  1. To indicate where people, objects and places are located*:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --El coche está en el parking.
    The car is in the parking lot.
    * Use ser to describe where an event takes place
    --La clase de español es en Wescoe.
    The Spanish class is in Wescoe..
  2. To express mental states that result from an action or event:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --Estoy deprimida porque saqué una “F” en el examen.
    I’m depressed because I got an “F” on the exam.
  3. To express physical states that result from an action or event:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --El chico está cansado después de correr 5 millas.
    The boy is tired after running 5 miles.
  4. To express something unexpected:
    Ejemplo(s):
    --¿No está muy delgada Carolina?
    Doesn’t Carolina look really thin?

In general, the verb ser is used to express characteristics or inherent circumstances, while the verb estar is used to describe a resulting state. Equating ser with permanent states and estar with non-permanent states, can lead to erroneous verb use. Take a look at the following example:

Ejemplo(s):
--Mi abuela se murió el año pasado.
My grandmother died last year.
--Mi abuela está muerta.
My grandmother is dead.

Death is a permanent state but estar is used because death is the state or condition resulting from dying.