Spanish Expressions Using ‘Estar’

Idioms often don’t translate word for word

Bolivian road with dangerous drop-off
Está visto que el camino boliviano es peligroso. (It is obvious that the Bolivian road is dangerous.).

Ben L / Getty Images

As one of the verbs meaning "to be," estar 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 años luz (to be light years away, literally or figuratively): Eso plan está a años luz de lo que necesita la industria. (That plan is light years away from what the industry needs.)

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

estar a la moda (to be in style): Los pantalones de campana no están de moda. (Bell-bottom pants aren't in style.)

estar a la que salta (to be ready to take advantage or make the best of a situation). Durante la Guerra Fría, tantos rusos como americanos estaban a la que salta por averiguar qué hacía el otro. (During the Cold War, as many Russians as Americans were ready to jump at the chance to figure out what the other side was doing.)

estar al caer (to be on the verge of arriving). El Galaxy S10 está al caer, y podría costar 899 dólares. (The Galaxy S10 is almost here, and it could cost $899.)

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 de vuelta (to have returned, to be back): Los campeones están de vuelta para luchar otra vez. (The champions are back to fight again.)

estar en pañales (literally to be in diapers, figuratively to be new at something): Ocurrió cuando nuestra democracia ya estaba en pañales. (It happened when our democracy was just getting started.)

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?)