Previously, we looked at how to use the portuguese verb SER. Now let's look at the differences between SER and ESTAR.


Ser is for intrinsic, somewhat permanent characteristics.

Meu nome é Raquel.

My name is (permanently/always) Raquel.

Eu sou brasileira.

I am (permanently/always) Brazilian.

Ele é casado.

He is (somewhat permanently) married.


Estar is for temporary passing things. (ESTAR - the definitive reference)

Eles estão atrasados.

They are (temporarily) late.

A Veronica está na academia.

Veronica is (temporarily) at the gym.

The difference between the two is sometimes jokingly used by Brazilians:

Joana: Nossa! Você está bonita!

Joana: Wow! You are beautiful (at this moment)!

Maria: Eu não ESTOU bonita, eu SOU bonita.

I am not (temporarily) beautiful, I am (permanently/always) beautiful.

Exceptions and etc.

Death. It seems like it might be a permanent situation (ahem) but not in portuguese. Use estar:

Ele está morto há muito tempo.
He's been dead a long time.

The day. Brazilians will say, "It's a beautiful day" and use both ser as well as estar. That's probably because if you just mean the weather, that's a temporary (estar) aspect, but you could also be saying that the day is beautiful intrinsically and will go down in history as such... !

O dia está bonito!
Hoje é lindo!