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Ser vs Estar Spanish Practice

Ser and Estar both translate as “to be” in English, but as you now know, the translation isn’t perfect! Let’s practice choosing the right verb, and the right conjugation, using some serious Spanish quizzing.

Full Podcast Episode


Let’s practice choosing the right conjugations of Ser and Estar.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to get some rigorous practice with Ser and Estar. When speaking in normal conversation, it’s very important to be able to choose the right form of the right verb on the fly, so we’ll work on honing that foundational skill today.

First and foremost, let’s make sure you can remember each of the forms of each of these verbs, even without a sentence context around it. I’m going to randomize all of our forms of Ser and Estar, and I’ll ask you to come up with a specific conjugation as quickly as you can. For example, if I say to come up with Ser’s present-tense form in the first person, you should quickly be able to remember somos. Let’s dive in and see how you do.

First, Estar, present tense, the word for “I am”? …estoy.

Next, Ser, present tense, the word for “they are”? …son.

Next, Estar, present tense, “we are”? …estamos.

Estar, past tense, “you were”? …estabas.

Estar, present tense, “she is”? …está.

Estar, past tense, “we were”? …estábamos.

Estar, past tense, “I was”? …estaba.

Ser, present tense, “you are”? …eres.

Estar, past tense, “she was”? …estaba.

Estar, present tense, “you are”? …estás.

Ser, past tense, “we were”? …éramos.

Ser, past tense, “they were”? …eran.

Ser, past tense, “she was”? …era.

Estar, present tense, “they are”? …están.

Ser, past tense, “I was”? …era.

Ser, present tense, “he is”? …es.

Ser, present tense, “we are”? …somos.

Estar, past tense, “they were”? …estaban.

Ser, present tense, “I am”? …soy.

Ser, past tense, “you were”? …eras.

If you had a lot of trouble with this quiz, this is a skill you definitely need to work on before moving forward. One thing we have all our students do is to try to list out all your conjugations from memory on a blank piece of paper or a blank document. This helps you quickly identify which conjugations you have the most trouble remembering (for example, maybe you have trouble remembering éramos and estábamos). Then, you should do whatever you can to make those specific conjugations as vivid and memorable as possible.

All right, our next step is to put these into sentence contexts. Once again, we’re going to go through all the conjugations we’ve learned from both verbs, but this time, I’m not going to tell you whether to use Ser or Estar. Instead, you’ll have to follow the whole process in your head.

And specifically, there’s a three-part process you’ll need to follow for every single one of these sentences. First, decide whether it’s Ser or Estar. Then, decide which tense (the present or the past). And then third, come up with the right person. Don’t skip any of these steps, or you’re likely to practice your Spanish incorrectly!

For example, let’s say the sentence I present in English is “She was my friend”. You’re going to be tempted to jump straight to the past tense of one of these verbs, but that’s not the first step — before doing anything else, you need to be confident in whether we should use Ser or Estar! In this case, we’re talking about what she was, so we’ll use Ser. Step two, we’re talking about the past, so we’ll go to those conjugations that have a stress on “er”. Then we choose the right one: era. Ella era my amiga.

Practice using all three of those steps for all of these sentence examples:

You were the girl.

Eras la chica.

She was here.

Ella estaba aquí.

You are at the place.

Estás en el lugar.

I was at the house.

Estaba en la casa.

They were friends(f).

Eran amigas.

He was at a place.

Estaba en un lugar.

We are here.

Estamos aquí.

Were you at the place?

¿Estabas en el lugar?

You(formal) were the guy.

Usted era el chico.

She was a friend.

Era una amiga.

We were here.

Estábamos aquí.

We were the girls.

Éramos las chicas.

The guys are friends.

Los chicos son amigos.

Are you(formal) here?

¿Usted está aquí?

We are not friends(m).

No somos amigos.

They were not at the place.

No estaban en el lugar.

He is a friend.

Es un amigo.

I was the girl.

Yo era la chica.

Are you a friend(f)?

¿Eres una amiga?

I’m a guy.

Soy un chico.

They are not here.

No están aquí.

I’m at home.

Estoy en casa.

If you need more help with this, make sure to use the quizzing materials at LCSPodcast.com/24. But if you did all right with everything up to this point, let’s get some more practice with all of these verb forms in more complex sentences, including some of the difficult structures that we learned in episode 19.

They are from Peru.

Son de Perú.

Those books are by my favorite author.

Those books son por my favorite author.

Esos libros son por mi autor favorito.

The problem was that she wasn’t here.

The problem era que ella no estaba aquí.

El problema era que ella no estaba aquí.

You(formal) weren’t in this place, I was.

Usted no estaba en este lugar, yo lo estaba.

Are you around here?

¿Estás por aquí?

She wasn’t a friend, I was.

Ella no era una amiga, yo lo era.

He was here in order to be my friend.

Estaba aquí para ser my amigo.

Estaba aquí para ser mi amigo.

Are you the girl’s friend(f)?

¿Eres la amiga de la chica?

She was around there.

Ella estaba por there.

Ella estaba por ahí.

You(formal) are not the guy, he is.

Usted no es el chico, él lo es.

They knew we were not present.

Ellos knew que no estábamos.

Ellos sabían que no estábamos.

We were from the same city.

Éramos de the same city.

Éramos de la misma ciudad.

We are friends(m) because of being in the same class.

Somos amigos por estar en the same class.

Somos amigos por estar en la misma clase.

That was because of my friend(f).

Eso era por my amiga.

Eso era por mi amiga.

The problem is that you(formal) are not here.

The problem es que usted no está aquí.

El problema es que usted no está aquí.

They know we are present.

Ellos know que estamos.

Ellos saben que estamos.

We are of flesh and bone.

Somos de flesh y bone.

Somos de carne y hueso.

The issue is that I’m not present.

The issue es que no estoy.

El problema es que no estoy.

Were they friends when they were in Bogotá?

¿Eran amigos when estaban en Bogotá?

¿Eran amigos cuando estaban en Bogotá?

That is the girl’s and it’s for the guy.

Eso es de la chica y es para el chico.

That is for the house.

Eso es para la casa.

You(formal) were my friend because of being here.

Usted era my amigo por estar aquí.

Usted era mi amigo por estar aquí.

You weren’t present, but they(f) were.

Tú no estabas, but ellas lo estaban.

Tú no estabas, pero ellas lo estaban.

Were you the guy?

¿Eras tú el chico?

I’m a friend and they are with me.

Soy un amigo y ellos están with me.

Soy un amigo y ellos están conmigo.

You can get more practice with all of this at LCSPodcast.com/24. In tomorrow’s episode we’ll take this all to the next level by incorporating pretty much everything we’ve learned on the podcast up to this point in a giant quiz to perfect our use of Ser and Estar.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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