Difference between Ser and Estar: Permanent vs Temporary

Content

One of the most common questions in Spanish is: Cómo estás? (How are you) and the answer: Yo Estoy bien/mal (I am good/bad)… It is a temporary state as it changes clearly…Sometimes you are good, tired, sleepy, so on…so, it will take us to verbo Estar (temporary To be). Today we will see the difference between Ser and Estar in Spanish.

Conjugation of verb Estar: Present simple

ESTAR IS THE VERB TO BE TEMPORARY IN SPANISH. Let’s remember the Estar conjugation:

PERSONAL PRONOUN

PRONOMBRE PERSONAL

TO BE

ESTAR

I

YO

AM

ESTOY

YOU

ARE

ESTÁS

YOU (FORMAL)

USTED

ARE

ESTÁ

HE

ÉL

IS

ESTÁ

SHE

ELLA

IS

ESTÁ

WE

NOSOTROS

ARE

ESTAMOS

YOU(ALL)

VOSOTROS

ARE

ESTÁIS

YOU (ALL FORMAL)

USTEDES

ARE

ESTÁN

THEY (MASCULINE)

FOR GUYS

ELLOS

ARE

ESTÁN

THEY 

(FEMININE)

FOR GIRLS

ELLAS

ARE

ESTÁN

Therefore, as we do know:

¿CÓMO    ESTÁS?

HOW        ARE ? (YOU)

I           AM           FINE.

YO       ESTOY   BIEN

      YO ESTOY   MAL

       I     AM         BAD

YO ESTOY     MÁS      O    MENOS

I     AM           MORE  OR   LESS-( I AM SO SO)

#we have to see adjectives that will allow us to express our actual mental/physic state. 

Eventually an adjective can be used in a temporary expression (Estar) or a in a permanent one (Ser)…this is something that requires to be explained carefully. 

Temporary Adjectives

Let’s see temporary adjectives that can be used only in a temporary state:

INGLÉS

MASCULINO

FEMENINO

TIRED

CANSADO

CANSADA

SLEEPY

DORMIDO

DORMIDA

BORED

ABURRIDO

ABURRIDA

SAD

TRISTE

TRISTE

HAPPY (TEMPORARY)

CONTENTO

CONTENTA

HAPPY

FELIZ

FELIZ

CRAZY

LOCO

LOCA

SICK

ENFERMO

ENFERMA

ANGRY

ENFADADO

ENFADADA

DEPRESSED

DEPRIMIDO

DEPRIMIDA

NERVOUS

NERVIOSO

NERVIOSA

WORRIED

PREOCUPADO

PREOCUPADA

STRESSED

ESTRESADO

ESTRESADA

TO BE IN A GOOD MOOD

ESTAR DE BUEN HUMOR

TO BE IN A BAD MOOD

ESTAR DE MAL HUMOR

Temporary Vs Permanent Adjectives.

We have seen temporary adjectives to express our temporary mental/physic state. Most of them were just temporary adjectives, which means that they can only be used with the verb ESTAR, NOT in a permanent expression with the verb SER. Let’s see it with a clear example:

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             CANSADO

I            AM                    TIRED

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                  CANSADO

I             AM                    TIRED

Do you think the expression right above is right? Can a person be tired permanently? Well, eventually we have met in life people that are always tired  but in Spanish grammar terms, a person can’t always be tired so the verb SER (To be permanent) is not right. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             CANSADO.       CORRECT

I            AM                    TIRED

YO        SOY                  CANSADO.       INCORRECT

I             AM                    TIRED

As we said, most of the adjectives were temporary, but not all. Now let’s pick another one, NERVIOSO (Nervous) per example:

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             NERVIOSO

I            AM                    NERVOUS

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                    NERVIOSO                 

I             AM                     NERVOUS

Do you think both expressions right above are right? Can a person be nervous permanently and temporarily? Yes, a person can be a nervous person and also can be a calm person but it depends on what situations such as an interview, date, meeting….can get nervous. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             NERVIOSO.       CORRECT (Nervous in a specific moment)

I            AM                    NERVOUS

YO        SOY                  NERVIOSO.       CORRECT (A nervous person)

I             AM                    NERVOUS

This difference between the use of SER/ESTAR in these temporary/permanent ideas is very common. We are going to see a curious case that probably surprises you with LOCO:

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             LOCO      

I            AM                    CRAZY

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                  LOCO

I             AM                    CRAZY

Do you think both expressions right above are right? Can a person be crazy permanently and temporarily? NO.  We know that people think that, eventually, people can act and do crazy stuff, but, in grammar terms, we believe that being crazy is a very serious mental illness, so, as a disease, it can be healed, even though some people remain crazy forever. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             LOCO.       CORRECT

I            AM                    CRAZY

YO        SOY                  LOCO.       INCORRECT

I             AM                    CRAZY

One more example with FELIZ: 

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             FELIZ

I            AM                    HAPPY

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                   FELIZ            

I             AM                    HAPPY

Do you think both expressions right above are right? Can a person be happy permanently and temporarily? Yes, a person can be a happy person, and also, can be a non very happy person, but, it depends on what situations such as parties, dates….can be happy in that very right moment. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             FELIZ.       CORRECT (Happy in a specific moment)

I            AM                    HAPPY

YO        SOY                  FELIZ.       CORRECT (A happy person)

I             AM                    FELIZ 

We are not going to do this explanation with all of the adjectives written in the previous table, but, we will see them all together and explain if they can be used in a temporary form or in a temporary/permanent for. Let’s see the table again:

INGLÉS

MASCULINO

FEMENINO

TEMPORARY VS PERMANENT

TIRED

CANSADO

CANSADA

TEMPORARY

SLEEPY

DORMIDO

DORMIDA

TEMPORARY

BORED

ABURRIDO

ABURRIDA

TEMPORARY/PERMANENT

SAD

TRISTE

TRISTE

TEMPORARY

HAPPY (TEMPORARY)

CONTENTO

CONTENTA

TEMPORARY

HAPPY

FELIZ

FELIZ

TEMPORARY/PERMANENT

CRAZY

LOCO

LOCA

TEMPORARY

SICK

ENFERMO

ENFERMA

TEMPORARY

ANGRY

ENFADADO

ENFADADA

TEMPORARY

DEPRESSED

DEPRIMIDO

DEPRIMIDA

TEMPORARY

NERVOUS

NERVIOSO

NERVIOSA

TEMPORARY/PERMANENT

WORRIED

PREOCUPADO

PREOCUPADA

TEMPORARY

STRESSED

ESTRESADO

ESTRESADA

TEMPORARY

TO BE IN A GOOD MOOD

ESTAR DE BUEN HUMOR

TEMPORARY

TO BE IN A BAD MOOD

ESTAR DE MAL HUMOR

TEMPORARY

  1. CANSADO, a person can’t always be tired as we have explained previously.
  2. DORMIDO, a person can’t always be sleepy, and if so, that person has a problem.
  3. ABURRIDO, a person can be bored in a specific moment or unfortunately, can be a boring person.
  4. TRISTE, a person can’t be always sad, and if so, the person has a problem.
  5. CONTENTO, this is a happy temporary Adjective. ONLY. It won’t be used in a permanent expression.
  6. FELIZ, a person can be permanently happy and temporarily as we have explained.
  7. LOCO,  a person can’t always be crazy as we have explained previously.
  8. ENFERMO, even though we know that it can happen in life, a person can’t always be sick because in grammar terms, we think that a disease can be healed.
  9. ENFADADO, a person can’t be always angry, and if so, that person has a BIG problem.
  10. DEPRIMIDO, a person can’t always be depressed as depression is an illness, so, we believe that it can be healed.
  11. NERVIOSO, a person can be permanently nervous and temporarily as we have explained.
  12. PREOCUPADO,  a person can’t always be worried, and if so, that person has a problem.
  13. ESTRESADO,  a person can’t be always stressed, and if so, the person has a problem.
  14. ESTAR DE BUEN/MAL HUMOR, is clear temporarily, and we have even written the verbo ESTAR on the table a temporary state.

Permanent Vs Temporary Adjectives.

You probably know different adjectives to describe a person’s personality. Now we are going to see them back and see if they can actually be used in a temporary idea. Let’s pick one of those adjectives to see a clear example. Let’s see SIMPÁTICO (friendly, nice):

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             SIMPÁTICO

I            AM                    NICE

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                   SIMPÁTICO          

I             AM                    NICE

Do you think both expressions right above are right? Can a person be happy permanently and temporarily? Yes, a person can be a nice person and also can be a non very friendly person but it depends on what situations can be nice to others in that very right moment. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             SIMPÁTICO.       CORRECT (nice in a specific moment)

I            AM                    NICE

YO        SOY                  SIMPÁTICO.       CORRECT (A nice person permanently)

I             AM                    NICE

Let’s try now with EXTROVERTIDO (Outgoing):

Verbo ESTAR (To be temporary):

YO       ESTOY             EXTROVERTIDO

I            AM                    OUTGOING

-Now let’s try the same phrase with verbo SER (To be permanent):

YO        SOY                   EXTROVERTIDO          

I             AM                     OUTGOING

Do you think both expressions right above are right? Can a person be outgoing permanently and temporarily? NO. We are going to use outgoing only to describe a person’s permanent personality, so we won’t use this adjective in a temporary way. To be outgoing is more a permanent characteristic that belongs to the person permanently. Therefore:

YO       ESTOY             EXTROVERTIDO.       INCORRECT

I            AM                    OUTGOING

YO        SOY                  EXTROVERTIDO      CORRECT (An outgoing person)

I             AM                    OUTGOING

So, basically we have the same idea that has been told above between SER/ESTAR in temporary adjectives. Let’s see them all:

ENGLISH

MASCULINE

FEMININE

NICE

AGRADABLE

AGRADABLE

FUNNY

DIVERTIDO

DIVERTIDA

BORING

ABURRIDO

ABURRIDA

HUMBLE

HUMILDE

HUMILDE

GENTLE

AMABLE

AMABLE

CHEERFUL

ALEGRE

ALEGRE

INTELLIGENT

INTELIGENTE

INTELIGENTE

HARDWORKING

TRABAJADOR

TRABAJADORA

SERIOUS

SERIO

SERIA

SHY

TÍMIDO

TÍMIDA

OUTGOING 

EXTROVERTIDO

EXTROVERTIDA

GOOD

BUENO

BUENA

BAD

MALO

MALA

LAZY

VAGO

VAGA

FRIENDLY, NICE

SIMPÁTICO

SIMPÁTICA

  1. AGRADABLE, a person can be permanently nice and temporarily as we have explained.

  2. DIVERTIDO, a person can be permanently funny and temporarily as we have explained.

  3. ABURRIDO, a person can be bored in a specific moment, or, unfortunately, can be a boring person.

  4. HUMILDE, we are going to use humble only for describing a person’s permanent personality; so we won’t use this adjective in a temporary way. To be humble temporarily is very weird.

  5. AMABLE, a person can be permanently gentle and temporarily as we have explained.

  6. ALEGRE, a person can be permanently cheerful and temporarily as we have explained.

  7. INTELIGENTE, we are going to use intelligent only for describing a person’s permanent personality; so we won’t use this adjective in a temporary way. To be intelligent is more a permanent characteristic that belongs to the person permanently.

  8. TRABAJADOR, a person can be permanently nice and temporarily as we have explained.

  9. SERIO, a person can be permanently nice and temporarily as we have explained.

  10. TÍMIDO, a person can be permanently nice and temporarily as we have explained.

  11. EXTROVERTIDO, we are going to use outgoing only for describing a person’s permanent personality; so we won’t use this adjective in a temporary way. To be an outgoing person is more a permanent characteristic that belongs to the person permanently.

  12. BUENO, this adjective requires a slower explanation because its meaning in a temporary expression is completely different from its meaning in a permanent expression.

ÉL       ES             BUENO.     

HE       IS               GOOD

BUENO used permanently  means  that this person is a good hearted person.

ÉL       ESTÁ             BUENO.     

HE       IS                    GOOD

BUENO used temporarily  means  that this person is a hot/cute person. Watch out for the use!!! This is a very common expression in Spanish. If there is a hot person passing by and we are with our friends, the first thing that will come to our minds, will be this expression.

  1. MALO, this adjective requires a slower explanation as well, because its meaning in a temporary expression is completely different from its meaning in a permanent expression.

ÉL       ES             MALO.     

HE       IS               BAD.

MALO used permanently  means  that this person is a bad hearted person.

ÉL       ESTÁ             MALO.     

HE       IS                    BAD

MALO used temporarily, despite what you may think from the previous explanation, does not mean that the person has a bad look. Used in a temporary way means that the person is sick. We do not specify what kind of disease the person has. Is just sick in general.

  1. VAGO, a person can be permanently lazy and temporarily as we have explained.

  2. SIMPÁTICO, a person can be permanently nice and temporarily as we have explained.

Rate this post:
5/5
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on vk
Share on email
superuser

superuser

1 Comment

Leave a Reply