The Ultimate Guide To The Spanish Verb Estar: Conjugation + Examples

When studying Spanish, one of the trickiest topics that shows up in your way is the use of two verbs ser vs estar, instead of the single English verb TO BE.

So, today we will learn and practice ESTAR in Spanish:

You can watch the following video from Spring Languages (a language learning platform I’m a co-founder) about how to learn estar through chunking.

After reading this comprehensive guide, you will be able to use estar in Spanish easily.

1. What Does The Spanish Verb Estar Mean?

ESTAR means to be, but it shares the meaning with ser in Spanish.

ESTAR is used to describe temporary conditions or states, while SER is used to refer to more permanent conditions and states.

Estar is used to describe

Used to express:ExplanationExample
LocationLocation tends to be temporary. It can change from one moment to another.Ana: Dónde están mis gafas?
(Where are my glasses?)

Están sobre la mesa.
(They are on the table)
PositionA person’s position can change, of course.Julia: ¿Estás parado?
(Are you standing?)

Benji: No, estoy acostado.
(No, I’m lying down)
Action in progressThis use corresponds to the English continuous tense (to be + -ing). It is used to refer to an action that is in progress at the moment of speaking. In Spanish the structure is estar + gerund (-ando, -iendo)Miquel: ¿Qué están haciendo los niños?
(What are the children doing?)

Gabi: Están jugando afuera.
(They’re playing outside)
Temporary emotions and feelingsWhen talking about a person’s mood at a particular moment, generally for a particular reason, we use estar.Georgina: ¿Estás bien?
(Are you ok?)

Cristiano: No, estoy enojado porque perdí las llaves del coche.
(No, I’m angry because I’ve lost my car keys)
Temporary conditionsSome conditions and physical states require estar because they are not permanent.
Estoy cansada.
(I am tired)

Mi madre está preocupada por mí.
(My mother is worried about me.)

La maestra está enferma hoy.
(The teacher is ill today.)
Some fixed expressionsSome idiomatic expressions require estar.Estaremos de vacaciones hasta el lunes.
(We’ll be on vacation until Monday)

Estoy a punto de salir. (I’m about to leave)

Estoy harta de estudiar!
(I’m sick of studying!)

Julia siempre está a la moda.
(Julia is always fashionable)

Estar vivo (to be alive) and estar muerto (to be dead) always require ESTAR.

2. Estar Conjugation In Spanish Tenses

Estar is an irregular verb.
This means that it doesn’t follow the regular conjugation pattern, so you will need to memorize its conjugation.

But don’t worry!

ESTAR is a verb that will be quite easy to remember because you will use it a lot!

Let’s learn the most frequently used forms of ESTAR in Spanish in the three moods:

  • indicative
  • subjunctive
  • and imperative

Each of these moods present information in different ways, because they have different aims. Indicative mood is used to present information considered real by the speaker like in “Hoy hace frío” (It is cold today).

estar in spanish cold weather thermometer
“Hoy hace frío” (It is cold today).

Subjunctive Mood is used to present information that is possible, or to express desires like in “Ojalá que no haga frío hoy” (I hope it won’t be cold today).

Imperative mood is the mood we use to make an order, like in “Haz tu tarea” (Do your homework).

Estar And Indicative Mood

Indicative mood is used to talk about real situations, or situations that are considered real by the speaker.

Vosotras (Spain)
Ustedes (LatAm)estánestuvieron
PersonImperfectFutureSimple Conditional
Vosotros/Vosotras (Spain)estabaisestaréisestaríais
Ustedes (LatAm)estabanestaránestarían

Compound tenses require the use of the auxiliary verb “haber” + the participle of “estar”.

For example:

  • Nunca he estado en Buenos Aires. – I’ve never been in Buenos Aires.
  • Ellos ya habían cenado cuando llegué. – They had already had dinner when I arrived.
  • Habrían estado en la fiesta de haber podido. – They would have been at the party, had they been able to.
estar in spanish dinner with wine
Ellos ya habían cenado cuando llegué. (They had already had dinner when I arrived.)

Estar And Subjunctive Mood

Subjunctive mood is used to express desires, to make hypotheses, and to talk about possibilities.

There are only two simple tenses that are mostly used. Notice that the imperfect tense offers two different ending options.

PersonPresent Imperfect 
Vosotras (Spain)
Ustedes (LatAm)esténestuvieran

Again, compound subjunctive tenses require the verb “haber” + estar in the participle:

  • No creo que María haya estado en la fiesta. – I don’t think María was at the party.
  • Ojalá hubieras estado en mi clase de español. – I wish you had been in my Spanish class.
estar in spanish disco ball confetti party
No creo que María haya estado en la fiesta. (I don’t think María was at the party.)

Estar And The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is used to give orders or instructions.

  • ¡Estate quieto! – Be quiet!
  • No estés tan enojado. – Don’t be so angry.

One of the best ways to learn how to conjugate estar in Spanish is through chunking.

Chunking is a technique that involves breaking down a complex skill into smaller and easier parts.

By learning how to conjugate estar in chunks, you can memorize the forms faster and use them more confidently.

Now, there’s a little problem with the Spanish verb estar, because it’s similar to the Spanish verb ser. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

Ser vs estar are not interchangeable and different uses, so make sure to read our article about how to use them correctly.

3. Practice Section For Estar in Spanish – Example Sentences

I. Fill in the blank with the correct form of “estar” (present tense).

Are you eager to master estar in Spanish and impress your friends and teachers with your conjugation skills?

If so, you need to practice it with a range of exercises and activities.

estar in spanish open notebook with a pen and coffee
Practice estar with our Full Practice Worksheets

That’s why we have created the Full Practice Worksheet for estar in Spanish that you can download for free.

This worksheet will help you review the most frequent uses of estar in Spanish, learn how to conjugate it properly in various tenses, and broaden your grammar knowledge!

Click the button below and start the exercise now!

4. Conjugate Estar And Learn More With The Free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack!

Even though there are clear rules for when and how to use estar in Spanish, and when to ser vs estar, using them correctly might still be tricky!

Now, there is one possible solution for your problems and that is the free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack.

Click down below to get lists of essential Spanish chunks, a comprehensive Chunking Guide and lots more!

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