Using Estar to Express Feeling

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.

Here are some sentences using estar to get you started. Further on in this lesson, we will look at the pronunciation of these and more Spanish sentences.

  • Estoy muy enojado. - I am very angry.
  • Mi padre y yo estamos ocupados. - My father and I are busy.
  • ¿Estás cansado? - Are you tired?
  • La casa está limpia. - The house is clean.
  • Mi habitación está ordenada. - My room is tidy.
  • La tienda está cerrada. - The shop is closed.
  • El niño está aburrido. - The boy is bored.
  • El niño es aburrido. - The boy is boring.
  • La manzana está verde. - The apple is unripe.
  • La manzana es verde. - The apple is green.

Resources for further reading:

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

Por ejemplo (for example):

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Estoy muy enojado.

I am very angry.

Mi padre y yo estamos ocupados.

My father and I are busy.

¿Estás cansado?

Are you tired?

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

Por ejemplo:

La casa está limpia.

The house is clean.

Mi habitación está ordenada.

My room is tidy.

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,” etcetera.

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:

Ser

Use SER for... Por Ejemplo Translation
Possession La casa es mía. The house is mine.
Nationality Yo soy de España. I am from Spain.
Occupation Él es profesor. He is a teacher.
Permanent Characteristics La puerta es vieja. The door is old.
Time Son las ocho y media It's eight thirty.

Estar

Use ESTAR for... Por ejemplo Translation
Location Estamos en Perú. We are in Peru.
Weather Está nublado. It's cloudy.
Physical Health Estoy enfermo. I'm sick.
Mental Health and Well Being Estamos cansados. We are tired.
Emotions Estás triste. You're sad.
Continuous actions in the present Estás estudiando. You are studying.

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:

El niño está aburrido.

The boy is bored.

El niño es aburrido.

The boy is boring.

La manzana está verde.

The apple is unripe.

La manzana es verde.

The apple is green.

El perro está malo.

The dog is sick.

El perro es malo.

The dog is bad.

El hombre está borracho.

The man is drunk.

El hombre es borracho.

The man is a drunk.

See you soon! ¡Hasta pronto!

Mauricio Evlampieff: Rocket Spanish

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