Uses of 'Estar'

Common Verb Doesn't Always Mean 'To Be'

Estar is the Spanish verb best known as one of the two forms of "to be." However, it also has various other uses in which it has meanings (or translations) other than "to be." It often has meanings other than "to be" when used with certain prepositions, and in some cases it can be translated as "to be" but only when other words are used with it.

Following are some of the most common ways that estar is used other than as the equivalent of the English "to be." The form of estar used is followed by possible definitions and some brief sample sentences:

estar — to stay, to remain — Estaré dos días. I'll stay two days.

estar — to be ready — Aún no está la cena. The dinner still isn't ready. Estará a las dos. It will be ready at 2.

estar — to be here, to be available, to be in — Susana no está. Susana isn't in.

¿Estamos? — Right? You understand? Do we agree? — Salimos a las tres ¿estamos? We're leaving at 3, right?

estarse — to stay, to remain — Puedes estarte aquí. You can stay here.

estar a (especially when used in the first-person plural) — to be (a certain date or temperature) — Hoy estamos a 25 de diciembre. Today is December 25. Estábamos al lunes. It was Monday. Estamos a treinta grados. It's 30 degrees.

estar con — various translations, depending on the phrase used — La niña está con el sarampión. The girl has measles. Yo estaba con depresión. I was depressed. Flora estaba con una bata blanca. Flora was wearing a white housecoat.

estar de, estar como — to work as or to act as (especially when on a temporary basis) — Pedro está de pintor. Pedro está como pintor.

Pedro is working as a painter.

estar de — various translations, depending on the phrase used — No estoy de acuerdo. I don't agree. Ana está de vuelta. Ana is back home. Están de charla. They're chatting. Estamos de vacaciones. We're on vacation.

estar en que — to be based on, to lie in, to be with (when used as in the example given) — El problema está en que el color.

The problem is with (or is based on, or lies in) the color.

estar en que — to be of the opinion of, to believe — Estoy en que hay perros que no pueden ser entrenados. I believe there are some dogs that can't be trained.

estar para — to be about to, to be ready for, to be in the mood for — Estamos para salir. We're about to leave. No estoy para amor. I'm not in the mood for love.

estar por — to be in favor of — Estaba por la liberación de los esclavos. He was in favor of freedom for the slaves.

estar por — to be about to, to be on the verge of (This usage is more common in Latin America.) — Estamos por ganar. We're about to win.