ESTAR-the definitive reference

ESTAR - the definitive reference

Those of you that are already comfortable with the differences between SER & ESTAR are ready for this: ESTAR-the definitive reference. I wanted to do a review of all its uses (ie, verb tenses) in all its GLORY.

*In order of importance (use)

the present

> eu estou (conversational= tô)
> você está (conversation = tá)

Eu estou chegando. > I'm arriving.
Tá tudo bem? > Are you ok?
the preterite imperfect

> eu estava (conversational = tava)
> você estava (conversational = tava)

This form is used so much when talking about almost anything that "was" in the past that most people think it is the "simple past" (preterite tense). But ESTAVA is the preterite imperfect tense. That's because it's almost always used to talk about something that was happening (when...). The difference is this: When you're talking about what you did last weekend you're describing action in the past that was on-going. You were at the park when other things were going on. When you're talking about the fact that you were somewhere you are describing an action that was, and then ended. You have been to the park.

Eu estava fora de casa quando você ligou. > I was out of the house when you called.
Você tava com ela ontem? > Were you with him yesterday?
the future subjunctive

> eu estiver
> você estiver
Brazilians mostly use ESTAR with the triggers quando, se & assim que:

Se eu estiver livre mas tarde, vou pro shopping. > If I'm free later, I'm going to the shopping (stores).
Me liga quando estiver pronta. > Call me when you're ready.
present subjunctive

> eu esteja
> você esteja
Here are by far, the most popular ways this is used (other examples):

Espero que (você) esteja melhor. > I hope you're better.
Mesmo que você esteja errado, vou te apoiar. > Even though you're wrong, I support you.
the preterite

> eu estive (conversational = tive)
> você esteve (conversational = teve)
You only need to remember to use this verb form when talking about a place that you (or someone else) has been. Note that the conversational form is the same as for the verb TER. Do not be confused by this!

Eu já estive em Portugal. > I've already been to Portugal.
Você esteve lá? > Have you been there?
the preterite imperfect

> eu estivesse (conversational = tivesse)
> você estivesse (conversational = tivesse)
Always think of this tense as "were to be", like this:

Se eu estivesse lá, nada teria acontecido. > If I had been there, nothing would have happened.
Se eu estivesse em casa, você poderia descansar. > If I'd been home you could have rested.
the conditional

> eu estaria
> você estaria
You already know the SER form (seria). The ESTAR version is much less used for reasons that I cannot explain.

Eu estaria trabalhando mas hoje é feriado. > I would be working but today is a holiday.
Você estaria rico se ganhasse a mega sena. > You would be rich if you were to win the lottery.
the future

> eu estarei
> você estará
Use the future tense to give a certain seriousness or certainty to the phrase, like this:

Eu estarei lá na hora marcada. > I will be there at the set time.
Você estará sempre comigo. > You will always be with me.
the past participle

> estado
You would mostly use the past participle for composing the past form for "have been" like this:

Tenho estado muito ocupado. > I've been really busy.
Você tem estado muito estressado esses dias. > You've been very stressed-out lately.
the gerund

> estando

Pull this one out when you really want to impress or confuse someone. It's rarely used verbally, but you might see it in a newspaper or a legal text.

Estando do lado de fora, ele podia ver somente o lado externo da nossa casa. > Being that he was outside, he could only see the external side of our house.