Estar Perfect Conjugation: Present & Past

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena teaches Spanish as a foreign language and has a PhD in linguistics.

In this lesson we will learn about the Spanish verb ''estar'' ('to be') and how to use it in context. We will also see how to conjugate it in two different past tenses, i.e. the present perfect and the past perfect, analyzing them in context.

Introducing the Verb Estar

Have you ever been to Spain or South America? Have you been to the cinema lately? Had you ever been to Spanish classes before starting this lesson? In order to have these conversations in Spanish, you will need the verb estar (ehs-TAHR), which means 'to be'. We use this verb in order to talk about location or temporary states or situations, like emotions or feelings.

Let's take a look at some daily situations in which you will definitely need to use the verb estar.

Using the Verb Estar

We use the verb estar in order to talk about location or places. For example, estar en clase ('to be in class') or estar en el cine ('to be at the cinema'). Also, we need the verb estar when talking about situations which are temporal, not permanent, such as emotions, feelings or states. For example, estar ocupado ('to be busy') or estar cansado ('to be tired').

Estar en clase = To be in class

Take a look at some commonly used expressions with estar:

VERB: estar (ehs-TAHR) - to be

Expressions Meaning
Estar a gusto to be at ease
Estar ocupado/a to be busy
Estar hecho/a polvo (informal) to be exhausted
Estar en exámenes to be in exams

Present Perfect of Estar

We use the present perfect tense to talk about past actions that have an influence on the present or the moment of speaking.

The present perfect is a 'perfect' or compound tense because it is formed by combining two parts - the present of the verb haber (the auxiliary 'have') and the past participle. For verbs ending in -AR, the past participle is formed by adding -ado to the verb stem.

VERB: estar (ehs-TAHR) - to be

Subject Pronouns Estar Conjugation: Present Perfect Pronunciation Translation
yo he estado eh ehs-TAH-doh I have been
has estado ahs ehs-TAH-doh you have been
él/ella/usted ha estado ah ehs-TAH-doh he/she has been - you formal have been
nosotros/as hemos estado EH-mohs ehs-TAH-doh we have been
vosotros/as habéis estado ah-BAYS ehs-TAH-doh you all have been
ellos/ellas/ustedes han estado ahn ehs-TAH-doh they/you all formal have been

Example Conversation

Olga has been very busy lately, but exams are finally over now and she calls her friend Jaime.

Olga: Perdona que no te llamara antes. ('Sorry I haven't called you before'.) Es que he estado muy ocupada. ('I have been very busy'.)

Jaime: ¿Has estado en exámenes? ('Have you been in exams?') Yo también. ('Me too'.) He estado hecho polvo. ('I've been exhausted'.)

Olga: ¿Habéis estado tu hermano y tú en el nuevo parque de atracciones? ('Have you and your brother been to the new amusement park?')

Jaime: No, no hemos estado. ('No, we haven't'.) ¡Vayamos este finde! ('Let's go this weekend!')

Translation: I have been in exams

Past Perfect of Estar

We use the past perfect to talk about actions or situations in the past that finished before another action took place.

Like the present perfect, this tense has two parts, i.e. the auxiliary verb haber + past participle, but in this case the verb haber is conjugated in the imperfect tense (all forms containing -ía).

Remember that though the first part is conjugated depending on the subject pronoun, the past participle is invariable.

VERB: estar (ehs-TAHR) - to be

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