Ser and estar: cases when we can use either verb for “to be”.

With many adjectives, we can use either ser ser, presente or estar estar, presente, the choice depending on whether we are describing a temporary or permanent state of affairs.

  • If we're talking about a temporary feature of something, we use estar.

Magda está muy guapa esta mañana (hoy en particular).

Magda is very beautiful this morning (looking so today especially)

Estamos felices con la noticia (en este momento).

We're delighted with the news (right now).

  • If we're talking about a permanent feature of something, we use ser.

Magda es guapa (siempre).

Magda is pretty (always).

Somos felices (en general).

We are happy (in general).

  • The meaning of some adjectives changes depending on which of the two verbs we use:

Teo está despierto (dejó de dormir).

Teo is awake (he’s not asleep anymore).

Teo es muy despierto (vivaz, listo).

Teo is very bright (spirited, smart).

  • Exception: with the adjective muerto (dead), we always use the verb estar (to be):

Beatriz Borbollón está muerta desde hace una semana.

Beatriz Borbollón has been dead for a week.

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