Verbs ser and estar (to be)

Ser, present tense

Yo soy
Tú eres
Él/Ella/Usted es
Nosotros/as somos
Vosotros/as sois
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes son

Estar, present tense

Yo estoy
Tú estás
Él/Ella/Usted está
Nosotros/as estamos
Vosotros/as estáis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes están

How to memorize the conjugations

Try to memorize them in columns, preceded by the pronoun: Yo soy, tú eres, él/ella/usted es, nosotros/nosotras somos, [vosotros/vosotras sois], ellos/ellas/ustedes son. Yo estoy, tú estás, él/ella/usted está, nosotros/nosotras estamos, [vosotros/vosotras estáis], ellos/ellas/ustedes están.

Note: In all Spanish-speaking countries, people differentiate between tú eres (informal) versus usted es (formal). However, for the plural version (“you all”) this differentiation only happens in Spain (vosotros sois [informal] versus ustedes son [formal]). 

In the rest of the world, for “you all,” people always use the formal versión ustedes son. Since the majority of the countries don’t use vosotros, we can choose to skip it when we learn verb conjugations.

SER - We use it for permanent attributes and professions.

Typical uses:

Physical or personality traits

Yo soy alto. (I am tall.) 
Laura es simpática. (Laura is nice.)


John es de España. (John is from Spain.)

Professions (even if they are non-permanent!)

Maria es secretaria. (Maria is a secretary.) 

ESTAR - We use it for non-permanent attributes and location.

Typical uses:

Moods/physical conditions

Yo estoy triste. (I am sad.)
Pedro está cansado. (Pedro is tired.)

Location (even if it is permanent!)

Sara está en Nueva York. (Sara is in New York.)
Madrid está en España. (Madrid is in Spain.)

Distinguishing example:

Mis ojos son azules (My eyes are blue—it’s their color.)
Mis ojos están rojos (My eyes are red—it is a non-permanent state.)

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