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Video:Learn Spanish: Uses of Estar

with Milo De Prieto

Estar, meaning "to be," is one of the most commonly used verbs in Spanish. Here are some tips for the uses of estar.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn Spanish: Uses of Estar

Hola, I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about how to use Estar, one of the two verbs meaning "to be," in Spanish. The idea of having two words for the most basic use of verbs can be confusing. But with some practice you will soon be navigating the difference effortlessly.

Use Estar for Progressive Tenses

The main basic difference is that estar is for temporary status and location while ser is for permanent being. But let's look at some more specific examples. First of all estar is used to make the progressive tenses. You use the appropriate form of estar and then the gerund of the verb, such as:

  • Estoy nadando. I am swimming.
  • Estaba nadando cuando me llamaste. I was swimming when you called me.

Understand that while the progressive tenses are very common in English, they are much rarer in Spanish. You mostly use this construction when you are underlining that the action is, was, or will be in process.

Use Estar to Talk About Conditions

Other than that you use estar to talk about conditions, such as how something or someone is:

  • ¿Cómo estás? How are you?
  • Estoy muy bien. I am well.
  • La toalla estaba mojada. The towel was wet.
  • Ella estará muy ocupada la semana que viene. She will be very busy next week.

Use Estar For Location

Use estar to talk about location:

  • ¿Dónde estás? Where are you?
  • Está en el centro commercial. He is at the mall.
  • Estaremos en Bilbao. We will be in Bilbao.

Use Estar for Idiomatic Expressions

You also use estar for certain idiomatic expressions:

  • Estuve en las nubes. I was daydreaming (in the clouds).
  • Estamos de acuerdo. We agree (are in agreement).
  • Está en pie. He is standing (on foot).
  • Están en camino. They are on their way.

As you continuing practicing, the use of estar will become second nature to you. For more information on Spanish, check us out at About.com.

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