Understanding How Estar is Used to Talk About Things That Are

estar is used to talk about things that are

Learning a new language can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to understanding the nuances of verb usage. One such verb in the Spanish language that can be tricky to master is “estar.” Used to talk about things that are, “estar” has several applications and uses that can take some time to grasp. In this section, we will explore the concept of using “estar” effectively and provide practical examples to help you become more confident in your Spanish language skills.

Key Takeaways

  • “Estar” is a verb used to talk about things that are.
  • Understanding the different nuances of “estar” usage is crucial to effectively communicating in Spanish.
  • “Estar” is used to express location, emotional states, physical conditions, temporary situations, and more.
  • Mastering the usage of “estar” requires practice and a solid understanding of its various applications.
  • Common mistakes when using “estar” can be easily avoided with proper guidance and practice.

The Meaning of Estar

In the Spanish language, the verb “estar” is essential in everyday conversations. It is one of the two verbs used to express a sense of being, the other being “ser.” While “ser” is used to indicate permanent characteristics, such as nationality or profession, “estar” refers to temporary states or conditions.

Understanding the basic meaning of “estar” is crucial to use it effectively. In its simplest definition, “estar” means “to be” or “to exist” in a particular state or condition. For example, “Estoy feliz” means “I am happy,” or “Está lloviendo” means “It is raining.”

It’s important to note that “estar” is not interchangeable with “ser.” For instance, “soy feliz” means “I am happy,” but the use of “ser” in this sentence suggests a permanent state. In contrast, “estoy feliz” implies a temporary or fleeting emotion.

Comparing Estar and Ser

Describes temporary states or conditionsDescribes permanent characteristics
Used to express locationUsed to express nationality or profession
Used to express emotional states or physical conditionsUsed to express inherent qualities or traits

As shown in the table above, “estar” and “ser” have distinct uses in the Spanish language. Mastering the differences between the two verbs will allow learners to communicate more accurately and effectively in various contexts.

“Estar” is a versatile verb that is crucial in many aspects of the Spanish language. By understanding its meaning and nuances, learners can communicate more accurately and effectively in everyday conversations.

Using Estar to Express Location

location map

One of the most common uses of the verb “estar” is to express location. This usage is essential in everyday conversations when discussing the whereabouts of people, objects, or places.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

SpanishEnglish Translation
El parque está cerca de mi casa.The park is near my house.
El libro está encima de la mesa.The book is on the table.
Mi hermana está en la universidad.My sister is at the university.

Notice that in all of these examples, we use “estar” in its third-person singular form, “está,” to describe the location of the subject.

It’s also important to note that “estar” is used to express more temporary locations. For permanent locations, we use the verb “ser.” For example:

La Torre Eiffel es en París. (The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.)

Now that we understand how to use “estar” to express location, let’s practice with some exercises:

  1. ¿Dónde está tu casa?
  2. El cine está al lado del supermercado.
  3. Los platos están en el lavaplatos.

Remember, when using “estar” to express location, make sure to consider whether the location is temporary or permanent and use the appropriate verb.

Describing Emotional States with Estar

describing emotional states with estar

In addition to expressing location and physical conditions, “Estar” is also essential in communicating emotional states or conditions. While “ser” is used to describe permanent states, “estar” is reserved for temporary feelings and moods.

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For example:

Estoy feliz.

Estás triste.

Está enojado.

These sentences express temporary conditions that can change at any moment, such as being happy, sad, or angry.

It’s essential to note that “estar” can also be used to describe physical sensations that accompany emotions, such as feeling cold, hot, or tired.

For example:

Estoy cansado.

Está nervioso.

In these examples, “estar” is used to indicate temporary physical and emotional states that can change over time.

When using “estar” to describe emotional states, it’s important to remember that the adjective must agree in gender and number with the subject.

For example:

Estoy emocionada.

Estamos contentos.

In these sentences, “emocionada” and “contentos” agree in gender and number with the subject pronouns “yo” and “nosotros,” respectively.

Overall, “estar” is an essential verb when expressing temporary emotional states and conditions. With practice, it becomes easier to identify situations where “estar” is appropriate and use it effectively.

Talking About Physical Conditions with Estar

talking about physical conditions

Another crucial aspect of the Spanish verb “estar” is using it to talk about physical conditions or states of being. This includes describing someone’s health, physical appearance, and other temporary characteristics. Let’s explore how to use “estar” in this context with some useful vocabulary and examples.

Describing Health Conditions

When talking about physical health, we use “estar” in Spanish. For example:

Estoy enfermo/a. (I am sick.)

Estás herido/a. (You are injured.)

Está cansado/a. (He/She is tired.)

Here are some additional vocabulary words that can be used to describe health conditions with “estar”:

dolor de cabezaheadache

As you can see, “estar” is an essential verb for talking about physical health conditions in Spanish.

Describing Physical Appearance

“Estar” is also useful when describing someone’s physical appearance or temporary characteristics. For example:

Estoy guapo/a. (I look handsome/pretty.)

Estás gordo/a. (You are fat.)

Está alto/a. (He/She is tall.)

Here are some additional vocabulary words that can be used to describe physical appearance and temporary characteristics with “estar”:

calvo/ahairless, bald

As you can see, “estar” is an important verb for describing physical appearance in Spanish.

Discussing Temporary Situations with Estar

discussing temporary situations with estar

One of the essential uses of the Spanish verb “estar” is to describe temporary situations, circumstances, or states of being. This involves using “estar” to convey ongoing actions, conditions that are subject to change, and events that are happening in real-time. Understanding how to use “estar” in this context is crucial for effective communication in Spanish.

For example:

“Estoy estudiando para mi examen.”

“I am studying for my exam.”

In this sentence, “estar” is used to convey that the action of studying is currently taking place and is ongoing. The use of “estoy” emphasizes that this is a temporary situation, which will not last forever.

Another example is:

“¿Cómo estás?”

“How are you?”

Here, “estar” is used to ask about someone’s current condition or state. As with the previous example, the use of “estás” emphasizes that this is a temporary situation, and the person’s state could change at any moment.

When discussing temporary situations or circumstances, it is essential to use “estar” rather than “ser.” “Ser” is used to describe permanent attributes or characteristics, such as nationality or physical traits. In contrast, “estar” is used to convey temporary states or conditions that can change.

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Remember to use “estar” to describe temporary situations and circumstances, and “ser” for permanent attributes or characteristics. With practice, you can confidently and accurately express ongoing actions, changing states, and temporary conditions using “estar.”

Using Estar in the Progressive Tense

using estar in the progressive tense

One of the essential uses of “estar” is to form the progressive tense. We use the progressive tense to indicate ongoing actions. The structure of the progressive tense is:

Subject + estar + present participle

The present participle is the verb form that ends in -ando or -iendo. For example:

Estoy hablando por teléfono. (I am talking on the phone.)

Notice that the verb “hablar” (to speak) changes to “hablando” (speaking) to form the present participle. Let’s look at more examples:

SubjectVerbPresent ParticipleExample Sentence
YoComerComiendoEstoy comiendo una pizza. (I am eating a pizza.)
CaminarCaminandoEstás caminando al parque. (You are walking to the park.)
Él/Ella/UstedBailarBailandoEstá bailando con su pareja. (He/She is dancing with his/her partner.)
Nosotros/NosotrasEstudiarEstudiandoEstamos estudiando para el examen. (We are studying for the exam.)
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesJugarJugandoEstán jugando al fútbol en el parque. (They are playing soccer in the park.)

As with other tenses, some verbs are irregular in the present participle form. For instance:

Leer – leyendo (reading)

Ir – yendo (going)

Dormir – durmiendo (sleeping)

It’s important to note that we cannot use the progressive tense for all verbs. We only use it for ongoing actions or temporary situations. For example, we wouldn’t say “Estoy sabiendo la respuesta” (I am knowing the answer) as knowing is not an ongoing action.

When using “estar” in the progressive tense, we need to be careful not to confuse it with the simple present tense. The simple present tense uses the base form of the verb. For example:

Estudio español. (I study Spanish.)

This sentence describes a habitual or regular action, whereas “Estoy estudiando español” (I am studying Spanish) describes an action in progress at the moment.

Mastering the progressive tense takes practice, but it is an essential skill for effective communication in Spanish.

Idiomatic Expressions with Estar

idiomatic expressions with estar

Using “estar” in idiomatic expressions is a fun and engaging way to expand your Spanish vocabulary and convey more nuanced thoughts. Here are some common idiomatic expressions that use “estar”:

Idiomatic ExpressionTranslation
Estar en las nubesTo be daydreaming
Estar en su salsaTo be in your element
Estar hecho un líoTo be confused
Estar verdeTo be inexperienced
Estar al tantoTo be aware

As you can see, these expressions have meanings that go beyond the literal definition of “estar.” Familiarizing yourself with idiomatic expressions adds depth and versatility to your communication skills.

Remember, idiomatic expressions often cannot be translated directly, so it is important to understand the meaning in context.

Mastering Estar: Tips and Common Mistakes

mastering estar tip image

To become proficient in using “estar,” it is vital to practice the verb in different contexts and scenarios. Here are some tips to help you master the usage of “estar” and avoid common mistakes:

Tip #1: Know the Difference between “Ser” and “Estar”

As we discussed in section 2, “ser” and “estar” have distinct meanings in Spanish. To use “estar” effectively, make sure to understand when to use “ser” and when to use “estar.” Remember, “ser” primarily refers to permanent states, while “estar” refers to temporary states or conditions.

Tip #2: Practice Using “Estar” with Prepositions

“Estar” is often paired with prepositions to express location or position. Practice using “estar” with prepositions like “en,” “de,” and “a” to indicate where objects or people are located. For example, “Estoy en la casa” means “I am in the house.”

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Tip #3: Learn Phrases and Expressions Related to Emotions

Using “estar” to describe emotions and temporary states is a common practice in Spanish. Learn commonly used phrases and expressions related to emotions, such as “estar de buen humor” (to be in a good mood) or “estar nervioso/a” (to be nervous).

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using “estar” in Spanish:

  • Confusing “ser” and “estar”
  • Using “estar” to describe permanent states
  • Missing prepositions when using “estar” to indicate location
  • Using “ser” instead of “estar” in the progressive tense

By keeping these tips in mind and avoiding these common mistakes, you will be well on your way to mastering the usage of “estar” in Spanish.


Congratulations on completing this comprehensive guide to understanding and mastering the usage of the verb “estar” in Spanish! We hope you have gained a deeper appreciation for the nuances and essential applications of this crucial verb.

As we have explored, “estar” is used to discuss things that are, express location, emotional states, physical conditions, temporary situations, and more. It is a vital component of the Spanish language that is worth studying and perfecting.

Remember to practice consistently, employ the tips we have provided, and be mindful of common mistakes to avoid. With patience and dedication, you can become proficient in using “estar” to communicate effectively in Spanish.

Stay Curious and Keep Learning

Learning a language is a lifelong endeavor, and there is always more to discover and explore. Keep practicing your Spanish skills, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you need additional resources, there are many online courses, textbooks, and language exchange programs available to deepen your knowledge.

Thank you for joining us on this language journey. We wish you the best as you continue to develop your Spanish language skills.


What is the meaning of the verb “estar”?

The verb “estar” in Spanish refers to a temporary state or condition of being. It is used to talk about things that are not permanent.

How is “estar” used to express location?

“Estar” is used to indicate where objects, people, or places are situated. For example, you can say “Estoy en casa” to mean “I am at home.”

Can “estar” be used to describe emotional states?

Yes! “Estar” is commonly used to express feelings, moods, and temporary emotional states. For example, “Estoy feliz” means “I am happy.”

What are some examples of physical conditions we can talk about using “estar”?

With “estar,” you can describe physical conditions such as health, appearance, and temporary characteristics. For example, “Estoy enfermo” means “I am sick.”

How can “estar” be used to discuss temporary situations?

“Estar” is the verb to use when talking about temporary situations or changing states. For example, “Estoy estudiando” means “I am studying.”

Why is “estar” important in the progressive tense?

The progressive tense in Spanish relies on “estar” to express ongoing actions. For example, “Estoy comiendo” means “I am eating.”

Are there any idiomatic expressions that use “estar”?

Yes, there are many idiomatic expressions that incorporate “estar.” For example, “Estoy en las nubes” means “I am daydreaming.”

What are some tips for mastering the usage of “estar”?

Some tips for mastering “estar” include practicing its different applications in context and being aware of common mistakes. For example, remember that “estar” is used for temporary states while “ser” is used for permanent states.


Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com

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