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To Be in Spanish

The verb "to be" in Spanish is one of the most irregular - but common verbs in that language.

And to complicate matters a bit more for English speakers learning Spanish, there are 2 types of meaning: Ser y Estar.

I hope this short guide will make it easy for you to understand the meaning and usage of to be in Spanish.

If you have trouble in understanding some grammatical concepts, however, you may want to check out my recommended Spanish grammar resources below.

To Be in Spanish, 1st Meaning: Ser

Use the verb Ser as follows:

  1. Use Ser with predicate nouns and pronouns.

  2. La señorita es de Santo Domingo.
    The young lady is from Santo Domingo.
    Esta mesa es de madera.
    This table is made of wood.
    Esta maleta es mía.
    This suitcase is mine.

  3. Use Ser with nouns denoting origin, material of which a thing is made, and ownership. Examples:

  4. El señor es medico.
    The gentleman is a doctor.
    La capital de España es Madrid.
    The captial of Spain is Madrid.

  5. Use Ser with impersonal and time expressions. Examples:

  6. Es urgente que usted salga en seguida!
    It's important that you leave at once.
    Es tarde.
    It's late.
    Hoy es viernes.
    Today is Friday.

  7. Use Ser with predicate adjectives denoting inherent or characteristic qualities of the suject, including character, appearance, colour, size, shape, age and financial condition. Examples

  8. Ese hombre es joven.
    That man is young.
    La niña es linda.
    The young girl is pretty.
    La camisa es blanca.
    The shirt is white.
    La mesa es redonda.
    The table is round.

  9. Use Ser + the past participle to form the pasive voice in Spanish.


To Be in Spanish, 2nd Meaning: Estar

Use Estar form of To Be in the following situations:

  1. With predicate adjectives and past participles used as adjectives denoting state or condition, which is not inherent in or characteristic of the subject.

  2. ¿Cómo está usted?
    How are you?
    Estoy bien, gracias.
    I'm fine, thanks.
    El niño está enfermo.
    The boy is ill.
    ¡Este café está caliente!
    This coffee is hot!

  3. To express position or location.

  4. ¡Bin Laden no está aquí!
    Bin Laden is not here!
    El sombrero está en el sofá.
    The hat is on the sofa.
    Yo estoy en Australia.
    I am in Australia.
    El Salvador está en Centro America.
    El Salvador is in Central America.


If you want the conjugation of the verb to be in Spanish, use the Spanish conjugator (at the bottom of that page, if you click that link), and enter the word ser or estar.

The Spanish conjugating tool will give you all the conjugations for either ser or estar in all the tenses and modes.

Spanish Grammar Resources Recommended Spanish Grammar Resources Spanish Grammar Resources

If you're finding it difficult to grasp complex grammar concepts like the Spanish subjunctive, you should consider getting a copy of English Grammar for Students of Spanish: English Grammar for Students of Spanish, by Emily Spinelli, and/or Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar, by Gilda Nissenberg.

English Grammar for Students of Spanish
Complete Spanish Grammar

English Grammar for Students of Spanish: English Grammar for Students of Spanish explains spanish grammar from an English grammar angle. If your grammar skills are very basic, this book will fix your handicap, and Spanish grammar will become much easier to understand.

Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar is a complete guide presented in 26 units, and contains more than 2,500 exercises in a question and answer format.

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