The easy way to ser, estar, haber

The Spanish language sometimes likes to over complicate things. One example of such thing is the fact that there are three words to express the same thing: “to be”. If that is not over complicating your existence, then I do not know what is. It looks like they could not simply decide on one simple verb and that kind of sucks. Natives do not seem to mind it that much though. It is the people who are learning Spanish that have major problems with it.

Three verbs that express the same thing means that you can use any one of them whenever you want to, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the three verbs: ser, estar, haber are used for different things. This confuses many people who want to and are learning Spanish. However, there is no need to worry. This blog post is here to help. Enough rambling, let’s cut to the chase.

  1. SER

The first verb is probably the most common verb in the Spanish language and also the first verb that people learn. It is usually used for:

introducing yourself:

Example: Yo soy María. (= I am Maria)

permanent characteristic ( color, shape, size):

Examples: El cielo es azul. (= The sky is blue)

           El cuadro es redondo. (= The painting is round)

Los pantalones son grandes. (= The pants are big)

where and when something takes place:

Examples: El evento será en Madrid. (= The event will take place in Madrid)

  El festival será en abril. (= The festival will take place in April)

indicating the owner:

Example: La casa es suya. (= The house is his/hers)

indicating the materials that something is made of:

Example: La pulsera es de oro. (= The bracelet is made of gold)

-indicating price:

Example: La chaqueta es 50 euros. (= The jacket is 50 euros)

There is a simple trick to determine whether we are going to use the verb “ser” as opposed to the verb “estar”. Is it permanent? If the answer is yes, then we use the verb “ser”, if not, then we use the verb “estar”. Seems simple, right?

  1. ESTAR

The second verb on the list is also one of the most common verbs in the Spanish language. It is usually used for:

temporary characteristics (it might surprise you, but marriage is a temporary characteristic also, what a pessimistic view!):

Examples: El chico está enfermo.(= The boy is sick)

Los dos están casados. (= The two are married)


Example: La biblioteca está en la calle principal. (= The library is on the main street)

There is a simple trick to determine whether we are going to use the verb “estar” as opposed to the verb “haber” , it is the question: “Do we know it?”. If the answer is yes, then we use the verb “estar”.

  1. HABER

Haber is mostly used for determining the location of unknown places or persons.

Example: Hay un banco por aquí. (= There is a bank around here) as opposed to El banco está aquí. (= That certain bank is here).

Now that you know the difference between these verbs, it’s time to use them!

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