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Like Ser, Estar also is translated into English as "to Be".  And it is also irregular in form (it doesn't follow regular conjugation patterns):


Él, ella, usted


Ellos, ellas, ustedes

estoy estás está estamos están

The difference is that Estar is used to indicate a "state" of being:


Newark está en California. Newark is in California.  Location
Estoy en la clase de matemáticas. I'm in math class. Location
Estoy enojada. I am angry. Emotional State
Estoy contenta. I am (feel) happy.  Emotional State
Estoy cansada. I am (feel) tired.  Physical State
Estamos bien. We are (feel) fine. Physical State
María está bonita. María looks pretty. Physical State
Estoy escribiendo. I am (in the middle of ) writing. State of Motion

Notice when indicating physical location, Estar uses the physical locator preposition "en." En means "in", "on" and "at" in English when referring to where things "are physically" (but Estar cannot be used when saying where events "take place" or "occur" as they have no physical form. See Ser for events and other time-related uses.)

Students often ask me why Estar is used when saying someone is dead: "Mi perro Fido está muerto." This is because it is a physical state of being: Just like being sick or well, tired or energized, your body can be dead or alive.

You may have heard that Ser is used for things which are permanent and Estar is used for things which are temporary. This is an over-simplification and not a good way to think of these verbs because you will end up with a lot of exceptions and confusion. Try to forget you ever heard that.

Remember instead the above designations Estar covering States of Being: Conditions, Location, and Motion (the Present Progressive) and that Ser is used when expressing elements of Identity.