Expressions Using 'Estar'

Idioms Often Don't Translate Word for Word

telephone sign
Estaba a punto de llamarte. (I was just about to call you.). Photo by Ezequiel; licensed via Creative Commons.

As one of the verbs meaning "to be," estar is used constantly in Spanish to refer to people's emotions as well as the status of things and persons. Although there are many times estar isn't translated as "to be," usually its use is straightforward for English speakers.

Estar also finds its way into numerous idiomatic expressions whose meaning may not be obvious at first. Following are some of the most common and/or useful of them, along with sample sentences taken from contemporary writing.

Appropriate translations can vary, depending on the context.

Spanish Expressions Using "Estar"

dónde estamos (an expression of amazement or disgust at what is being witnessed). ¿Dónde estamos? ¡No lo puedo creer! What's going on here? I can't believe it!

estar a gusto (to be comfortable). Estoy a gusto en mi trabajo. I am comfortable with my job.

estar al caer (to be on the verge of arriving). El Nexus 5 está al caer, y podría costar 399 dólares. The Nexus 5 is almost here, and it could cost $399.

estar al loro (to be on top of things). Puedes hablar de todo, porque estás al loro de lo que sucede diariamente. You can talk about everything, because you're on top of everything that happens daily.

estar a oscuras (to be ignorant or in the dark). Estoy a oscuras en estos temas. I am in the dark about these subjects.

estar a punto de (to be on the verge of). Estaba a punto de llamarte. I was just about to call you.

estar al corriente (to be up to date or current). No estoy al corriente en mis pagos. I'm not up to date with my payments.

estar al día (to be informed). Quiero estar al día con todo lo que pueda con mi bebé. I want to know about everything that can happen with my baby.

estar al límite (to be at one's limit in patience).

En estos momentos estoy al límite, y me hace daño ver como mi novio se autodestruye. These days I am at my limit, and it pains me to see how my boyfriend is self-destructing.

estar de buen ánimo (to be in a good mood). Mariano explicó que ayer su padre estuvo de buen ánimo. Mariano explained that yesterday his father was in a good mood.

estar de más (to be excessive). La seguridad nunca está de más durante la presencia del presidente. There is never too much security during the presence of the president.

estar mal de (un órgano del cuerpo) (to have a bad body part). Roger estaba mal de la espalda y no podía jugar con toda su capacidad. Roger had a bad back and couldn't play to full capacity.

estar por ver (to remain to be seen). Y está por ver la respuesta del Gobierno de España. The response of the Spanish government remains to be seen.

estar sin un cobre, estar sin un duro (to be broke). Recuerdo una época que yo estaba sin un duro. I remember a time when I was flat broke.

estar visto (to be obvious). Estaba visto que no era particularmente una buena opción. It was obvious that it wasn't particularly a good option.

llegar a estar (to become). ¿Cómo llegaste a estar delgada tan rápido? How did you become thin so quickly?

Sources: Sample sentences have been adapted from online sources that include es.Gizmodo.com, Carlos Soriano Gómez, Fobiasocial.net, Foro de Ayuda Psicológica, Correo del Orinoco, es.Yahoo.com, ComoHacerPara.com, ElBebe.com, ElDía.es, BioBioChile, D. Vázquez Molini and Informe21.com.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Expressions Using 'Estar'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/expressions-using-estar-3079863. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, April 25). Expressions Using 'Estar'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/expressions-using-estar-3079863 Erichsen, Gerald. "Expressions Using 'Estar'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/expressions-using-estar-3079863 (accessed January 22, 2018).