Spanish Verb Estar

A couple of lessons ago, we worked on the basic use of the verb “to be.” In this lesson we take a further look.

If you wanted to say, “I am sick,” or, “I am lost,” in Spanish, you’d be mistaken to use the “to be” verb that you previously learned, ser. “Ser” only describes permanent or nearly permanent states, such as being married (casado) or being tall (alto) or skinny (flaco).

The second “to be” verb in Spanish, estar, is used to describe location, health, or any condition that is only temporary. In the above example, you certainly don’t expect to be sick or lost forever.

The verb “estar” has a straight-forward conjugation in the present tense:

Present tense of ESTAR

YoestoyestásUd., él, ellaestáNosotros/asestamosVosotros/asestáisUds., ellos, ellasestán

Note the placement of the accent marks as well. While está can mean he or she is or you are, esta means “this,” as in esta cosa or “this thing.” The accent marks, in addition to indicating the correct pronunciation, distinguish completely separate words.

Where am I?

The most common way of asking the location of an object, person or place is:

¿Dónde está…?

This means, Where is…?

For example:

¿Dónde está el baño? - Where is the bathroom? ¿Dónde está mi carro? - Where is my car? ¿Dónde está el hotel? - Where is the hotel?

If you want to understand the answer, you need to learn some basic direction and location words.

Important Direction Words

For example:

¿Dónde está el baño?

Where is the bathroom?

¿Dónde está mi carro?

Where is my car?

¿Dónde está el hotel?

Where is the hotel?

A la derecha

To the right


Far away

Delante de

In the front

Forming DEL from DE and EL

Remember that the word de means of? Except for adelante, entre, and en, all the above direction words require de if they are followed by an object. For example: a la izquierda de la calle

principal to the left of the principal street

delante de la tienda

in front of the shop

cerca del parque

near the park

al lado del museo nacional

beside the national museum

Hint: The words “de” + “el” form the contraction “del.”

More examples:

  1. ¿Dónde está el gato?

    Where is the cat?

    El gato está al lado del perro.

    The cat is beside the dog.

    1. ¿Dónde está el lápiz?

    Where is the pencil?

    El lápiz está a la derecha de Maria.

    The pencil is to Maria’s right.

    1. ¿Dónde está el baño?

    Where is the bathroom?

    El baño está cerca de la oficina.

    The bathroom is near the office.

Coming up next is a review of what you’ve learned in this part of the program.

How Do You Feel?

When you talk about how you feel—whether you be tired, sad, or sick--you are usually talking about a temporary state. Therefore, you should use the “to be” verb estar.

How do you ask others how they feel?

Yo¿Cómo estoy?How am I?*Tú¿Cómo estás?How are you? (e.g., to a friend)**Ud.¿Cómo está Ud?How are you? (e.g., to your boss)Nosotros/as¿Cómo estamos?How are we?Vosotros/as¿Cómo estáis?How are you? (e.g. to a group of friends)Uds.*¿Cómo están Uds.?How are you? (e.g., to a group of co-workers)

Por ejemplo:

¿Cómo está tu madre?

How is your mother?

Ella está muy cansada por el viaje.

She is very tired because of the trip.

Juanita está muy feliz.

Juanita is very happy.

¿Cómo estoy, Doctor?

How am I, Doctor?

Usted está muy saludable.

You are very healthy.