Two Forms of To Be in Portuguese

Verb to be in Portuguese has two forms just as in Spanish: ser and estar.  There is a difference in the usage these two verbs.  Therefore, it’s important to understand why, so that you can use the appropriate verb to mean what you want to say.  Ser is usually used with the idea that something is permanent while estar is used to carry the idea that something is more temporary.


Use Ser When Referring to:

Someone’s Identity:  


Oi, tudo bem? Eu sou o Paulo.  ~  Hi, how are you?  I am Paulo.

Esta é a Maria.  ~  This is Maria.

Nacionality or Origin:  


  • Helen é americana.  ~  Helen is an American.
  • Eu sou do Brasil.  ~  I am from Brazil.

Someone’s Possession: 


  • Esta é minha casa.  ~  This is my house.

Someone’s Profession or Job:  


  • Carlos e Cibele são médicos.  ~ Carlos and Cibele are doctors.
  • Manuel é carregador de malas.  ~  Manuel is a bell boy.

Characteristics Instrinsic to someone or something:  


  • Eu sou baixa e loura.  ~  I am short and blond.
  • Você é bonita.  ~ You are beautiful!      
  • O sol é amarelo.  ~ The sun is yellow.

When Refering to a Location:


  • Onde é a saída? ~ Where is the exit?
  • A saída é a esquerda ~ The exit is to the left.


Use Estar When Referring to:

Temporary emotional feelings:  

  • Eu estou alegre hoje.  ~  I am happy today!

Temporary Physical feelings:      

  • Estamos muito cansados.  ~  We are very tired.

Temporary Quality:   

  • Você está bonita hoje! ~ You are (look) beautiful today!


I’m so glad you’re here! If you’re just starting on your journey of Portuguese learning, be sure to check out the Starter Guide.


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