Ser vs Estar - Spanish Verbs

Teacher Guide by Lourdes Fernandez

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Spanish Category!

Spanish Verbs Lesson Plans - Ser vs Estar

Student Activities for Ser vs. Estar Include:

In Spanish, distinction between ser and estar is critical. Both verbs translate as “to be” in English; however, their uses are very different, which can make learning and mastering the topic a challenge for students. Generally speaking, ser is used for more permanent things like identity, nationality, personality, and physical attributes. It is also used to express the date and time. Contrarily, estar is used for more temporary states like emotion and location. There are also some unusual instances where either verb could be grammatically correct, but the choice alters the meaning of the statement.

The following storyboards are designed to progress in difficulty as the student advances their understanding and mastery of Ser vs Estar. Students must first learn to conjugate ser and estar and can use the activities below!

Singular Plural
1st Person soy somos
2nd Person eres sois
3rd Person es son
Singular Plural
1st Person estoy estamos
2nd Person estás estáis
3rd Person está están

Ser vs. Estar Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Ser vs Estar Concept

After learning the conjugations of ser and estar, students should focus on understanding the basic difference between the two. Creating a storyboard like this is a powerful tool for illustrating the common uses of ser and estar.

Have students create original storyboards like this model to practice and demonstrate their understanding of ser and estar. Instruct students to make a cell for each category, label it, and provide a sentence below the image using ser and estar correctly. Since there are more ser categories than estar, students should use the extra cells to practice various conjugated forms of estar while alternating between examples of emotion and location.


  • Identity
  • Nationality
  • Personality
  • Physical attributes
  • Profession/Career
  • Date & Time
  • Emotion
  • Location

Alternate Activity 1: Students create storyboard to focus solely on ser—6 cells, one for each use of ser.

Alternate Activity 2: Students create storyboard to focus solely on estar—2 cells, one for each use of estar.

Start My Free Trial

Ser vs Estar Application

After learning the concept of ser vs. estar, as well as the verb conjugations, this storyboard may be used for students to practice or reinforce the lesson. The storyboard includes cells that illustrate and focus on examples ser or estar. The text provides sufficient information for students to be able to accurately complete each sentence.

Before beginning the exercise, it is helpful to remind students of this helpful rhyme:

For how you feel and where you are, always use the verb ESTAR!

If the statement is not about emotion or location, students should use the verb ser. Although the activity was designed as an individual one, students requiring further support could team up to complete it.

Start My Free Trial

Ser vs Estar Conjugation in Context

This storyboard activity assumes that students have already learned to conjugate ser and estar, and the differences of use. Students may have done some preliminary practice with the two verbs, but now require a little bit more of a challenge. This storyboard targets verb conjugation and choosing between ser and estar in the context of responding to questions.

Have students create a storyboard that simulates a conversation or multiple conversations between characters. The storyboard must use all categories of ser and estar. It should also target various forms of the two verbs.

Structured as a conversation, students must take into account how questions are asked and answered, besides just choosing between ser and estar correctly. Sometimes it is helpful for students to pretend they are speaking to a friend in order to determine the appropriate subject and verb conjugation. To reinforce the concept, below each example students can write the ser or estar category.

Activity 1: Students create and write full conversation as modeled.

Activity 2: Student only creates images, questions, and labels. In class, students are paired and reenact the storyboard to practice speaking. As their partner responds to the questions, the student writes in the response.

Start My Free Trial

Ser vs Estar Creative Scene

This storyboard model assumes that students have already learned the conjugations of ser and estar and their differences of use. It also assumes that students have already done some basic practice and are ready to put it all together. The creative scene is also appropriate to provide differentiation for advanced students.

Have students create their own creative scene, targeting images that will require various uses of ser and estar. Students will then write a descriptive paragraph below the cell, using complete sentences and describing all aspects of the illustration.

For example, this sample storyboard provides opportunities to express the location, physical attributes, and identities of objects and people. It also provides examples of personality, emotion, nationality, profession, material of an object, possession, time of day, and date. This scene also provides the opportunity to review basic vocabulary and expressing likes, dislikes, and pastimes should the teacher choose to interlace topics further.

Advanced: Instead of students writing out the description below the cell, students can instead give an oral presentation of the description.

Start My Free Trial

Ser vs Estar Special Cases

The student has learned the topic of ser and estar well and is now ready to broaden their understanding and knowledge. In certain instances, choosing between ser and estar can fundamentally affect the meaning of the question or statement, despite either verb being grammatically correct.

The three common examples are ser and estar being used with:

  1. food
  2. ¿Cómo…?
  3. listo/a

Have students create a simple, two cell storyboard illustrating the differences in meaning based off ser vs. estar for one or all of the above.

Advanced: Have students create storyboards based off less basic examples, such as connecting ser and estar to the adjective verde.

Start My Free Trial

Image Attributions

Help Share Storyboard That!

Looking for More?

Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!

All Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans Ed Tech BlogElementary SchoolMiddle School ELAHigh School ELAForeign LanguageSpecial EdUS History and Social StudiesWorld History

Our Posters on ZazzleOur Lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers
© 2018 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
Start My Free Trial
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class – Search for School-Safe, Creative Commons Photos (It Even Cites for You!)
Quick Rubric – Easily Make and Share Great-Looking Rubrics
abcBABYart – Create Custom Nursery Art
Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Ser vs. Estar   •   (Español) Ser vs. Estar   •   (Français) Être vs. Être   •   (Deutsch) Sein vs. Sein   •   (Italiana) Essere vs. Essere   •   (Nederlands) Being vs. Zijn   •   (Português) Sendo vs. ser   •   (עברית) להיות לעומת להיות   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) يجري مقابل يكون   •   (हिन्दी) बनाम होने के नाते होना   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Ser vs. Быть   •   (Dansk) Ser vs. Være   •   (Svenska) Ser vs. Vara   •   (Suomi) Ser vs. Olla   •   (Norsk) Ser vs. Være   •   (Türkçe) Ser vs Estar   •   (Polski) Ser vs. Estar   •   (Româna) Ser vs. Estar   •   (Ceština) Ser Proti Estar   •   (Slovenský) Ser vs Estar   •   (Magyar) Ser vs. Estar   •   (Hrvatski) Ser Prema Estaru   •   (български) Сер Срещу Естар   •   (Lietuvos) Ser vs Estar   •   (Slovenščina) Ser vs Estar   •   (Latvijas) Ser vs Estar   •   (eesti) Ser vs Estar