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.

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

Por ejemplo:

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

Por ejemplo:

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.

Use SER for...

Por ejemplo

Use ESTAR for…

Por ejemplo


La casa es mía.


Estamos en Perú.


Yo soy de España.


Está nublado.


Él es profesor.

Physical Health

Estoy enfermo.

Permanent Characteristics

La puerta es vieja.

Mental Health and Well Being

Estamos cansados.


Son las ocho y media


Estás triste.



Continuous actionsin the present

Estás estudiando.

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:

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


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