Using ESTAR to Express a Feeling or Condition

The verb estar is one of the most useful verbs in Spanish, as it not only describes location but also physical, mental, and emotional states or feelings.

Let’s practice more with this important verb. Express a condition or feeling by adding a descriptive adjective after estar.

Por ejemplo:

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Estoy muy enojado.
I am very angry.
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Mi padre y yo estamos ocupados.
My father and I are busy.
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¿Estás cansado?
Are you tired?

You can also use estar in this way to describe the condition of various places or things.

Por ejemplo:

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La casa está limpia.
The house is clean.
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Mi habitación está ordenada.
My room is tidy.
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La tienda está cerrada.
The shop is closed.

Remember that these conditions or states must be temporary. In other words, a clean house will eventually become messy, a tidy room will soon become disorganized, and a closed shop will eventually open. If you are describing a permanent condition of something (for example, “La pared es blanca,” or “The wall is white”), you must use ser.

Below is a list of common adjectives used with estar:

Physical conditions or states

Mental or emotional feelings

DO NOT use estar to describe feeling hungry, thirsty, hot, or cold, however. Instead, you will use the verb tener (to have), as in, “I have hunger,” “I have thirst,” “I have heat,” et cetera.

Using the proper verb to express feelings is very important. If you try to say, “Estoy caliente,” to mean “I am hot” (rather than Tengo calor) people will look at you strangely! That is not because the sentence is grammatically incorrect. Rather, it is because the statement “Estoy caliente” means—to be blunt—“I’m horny.”

When to Use ESTAR, When to Use SER

One of the most difficult things for new Spanish speakers to learn is the difference between ser and estar. Here is a summary to help you clarify their use.

Use SER for...

Por ejemplo

Use ESTAR for…

Por ejemplo

Possession

La casa es mía.

Location

Estamos en Perú.

Nationality

Yo soy de España.

Weather

Está nublado.

Occupation

Él es profesor.

Physical Health

Estoy enfermo.

Permanent Characteristics

La puerta es vieja.

Mental Health and Well Being

Estamos cansados.

Time

Son las ocho y media

Emotions

Estás triste.

 

 

Continuous actionsin the present

Estás estudiand

The Importance of Getting SER and ESTAR Right

You may wonder why all the fuss. If you confuse ser and estar while you’re in a Spanish-speaking country, they’ll still understand you … right?

I hate to disappoint you, but no. The meaning of many sentences can completely change according to whether you use ser or estar … and sometimes in very embarrassing ways.

Por ejemplo:

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El niño está aburrido.
The boy is bored.
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El niño es aburrido.
The boy is boring.
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La manzana está verde.
The apple is unripe.
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La manzana es verde.
The apple is green.
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El perro está malo.
The dog is sick.
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El perro es malo.
The dog is bad.
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El hombre está borracho.
The man is drunk.
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El hombre es borracho.
The man is a drunk.

In the next section we’ll work on talking about the weather.

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