Skip to Content

What is the difference between “está” and “esta” or “esté” and “este”? (Spanish grammar)

What is the difference between “está” and “esta” or “esté” and “este”? (Spanish grammar)

In Spanish, está refers to a third person i.e., he, she, it, or they. It is said to be an indicative verb, while “esté” is a subjective verb followed by a preposition to make a sentence. It is also used as “I was” or him/her. While esta and este mean “this”.

Está and esté” are forms of a verb i.e. estar means “to be” or in a state.

They are demonstrative adjectives. They are used to define a position or point towards something. It is also used to indicate a third party. While “esta” and “este” both mean “this”, they both tell the position or way something is said. “este” is masculine for a pronoun and esta is the feminine form of a pronominal adjective that is singular.

Basically, “está” and “esté” are almost the same, while “esta and está” or “este and esté” are quite different.

Different languages acquire various sets of rules for speaking. Their words have distinct pronunciation and meanings. Similarly, Spanish has adjectives and verbs, which work together to form sentences. The common mistakes people make are in the use of demonstrative gender and the pronunciation of verbs.

In this article, I will be discussing the most commonly used Spanish words, along with their correct use and pronunciation.

Confused?

Don’t worry, we can go through all of the differences slowly.

By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll understand the difference between está, esta, esté and este.

Let’s begin!

A photograph captured by a person with his hand placed on a page of  Spanish dictionary
A person reading a Spanish dictionary.

What does “esta” mean in English?

Spanish “Esta” means “This” in English. You’ll get to better understand the use of “esta” with the help of some examples given with English translations:

Spanish : Esta portátil
English Translation: This laptop

Este libro
This book

If the context is clear, “esta” and “este” can also be used without a noun. For example, if two people have been discussing a woman for a while and someone says “Esta no quiso ayudar” (“she didn’t want to help”), you should avoid saying “Esta Mujer” (this woman), because the context of the conversation is such that the people in the conversation understand that they are talking about the woman.

Este” or “esta”? Learn the difference in Spanish grammar ⚖️

Is Este formal or informal?

Whether Este is formal or informal will depend upon the context in which it’s being used. If it’s used in a sentence that is formally structured, its use will be formal. However, if Este is used to address something or someone in an informal way, it will be an overall informal usage.

It can be either formal or informal, depending on the context.

What’s the difference between “está” and “esté”?

“Está” and “Esté have similar meanings but different usage. Both mean (he/she/it/) but they are used separately.

Esté is used for hypothetical situations. It is used for something that is not happening in reality i.e. subjunctive cases while Está is used for actual situations or facts.

As in,

  • Está; him to be, her to be, me to be
  • Esté; he is/she is/ it is/to be

For example:
Where is he?
Dónde está?

“He wants him to be here by seven.”
“Quiere que esté aquí a las siete.”

I hope this explains the difference between está and esté.

You can take this neat quiz to check your understanding.

What’s the difference between ‘esto’, ‘esta’ and “este”?

“Esto” and “esta” are used as demonstrative pronouns. They are not used as adjectives. Things have genders too, and their gender is defined by verbs or pronouns.

So, “esto” refers to an object which is neutral or sometimes a masculine object. While “esta” is feminine and “este” is masculine.

For example, when referring to an unknown object or an object whose gender is not specified, “esto” is used in that case.

Such as:
¿Sabes qué es esto?
Do you know, what is this?

This video will help you review some of these Spanish grammar concepts.

a youtube video on ESTA vs. ESTE and ESTO

“está – esté and “esta” and este”

In Spanish to indicate he is/ she is, we use “está ” and to express “him to be/her to be/ is to be/” we use “esté“.

Whenever we indicate something we use “this” to point at that particular thing. Now, the gender of that thing specifies whether we need to use “esta”, “este” or “esto” for it.

Este refers to something feminine, while esta points at a masculine object, and esto is used when there is no gender specified or when given a neutral dialect.

The following table will help you differentiate between all these demonstrative adjectives.

MasculineFeminineneutral (unknown)
Singular (this one)estaesteesto
Plural (these one)estosestasestos
Pronouns and their demonstrative genders

What are demonstrative adjectives?

Demonstrative adjectives are named so, because they tell us about the distance between the subject and the object.

In other words, it demonstrates the distance between the speaker and the object to which the speaker is referring. In English, they are “ this” (singular), “that”, “these” (plural) etc.

“That” and “those” are used to show if something is “there”. Thus, in English there are only two distances “here” and “there”, and “this and that” i.e. singular and plural.

English is quite easy! Isn’t it?

Now, let’s look at the Spanish version of demonstrative adjectives.

Because the gender and number of the noun being modified by an adjective are indicated in Spanish, demonstrative adjectives have masculine and feminine forms. There is a feminine (esta) and masculine (esta) form of the Spanish word for “this” (este).

There are also feminine and masculine equivalents of “these” (estos and estas). The words for “that” (ese and esa) and “those” (esos and esas) indicate gender and number and are similar to the words for “this”.

Image showing an arrow labeled as "Love to learn"
Love to learn

Here are some examples for the use of demonstrative adjectives in Spanish along with their English translations:

SpanishEnglish
Este auto es hermosoThis car is beautiful
Me encanta esta diademaI love this hairband
Esto es increíble
This is amazing
Esta profesora es muy estricta (feminine)
Ese profesor es muy estricto (Masculine)
That teacher is very strict
es un proyecto giganteIt’s a giant project
Spanish sentences with their English translations

In Spanish, when would you use “este” instead of “esta” or “esto”?

First and foremost, I believe you need to reframe your thinking about all of these demonstratives. Your question reads, “When would you use este instead of esto/esta,” implying that you’re combining esto and esta.

Although it may appear to be illogical, the singular forms of estos/estas are NOT esto/Esta, but rather Este/Esta.

Este/Esta and esto are used in different contexts but give a literal meaning of “this”.

“Este”, “esta”, “esto”, ”Estos”, “estas” are demonstrative pronouns which fall under the three genders: masculine, female and impartial, and in both singular and plural, which designate what’s mentally close to the person who speaks or constitutes what has just been referred to.

These examples might help you better understand:

Quiero este telefono ; I want this phone

Esta chica me guio ; This girl guided me

So, in both of these examples “this” is used as a masculine and feminine form of adjective i.e. Este and esta respectively.

They both have different contextual meanings, therefore “Este” can never be used in place of “esta” or “esto”.

Can we use “es” in place of “esto” and “esta”?

In any case, esto and esta cannot be used to replace “es.” As discussed earlier, “esto” is a masculine or neutral pronoun that means “this one” and it is very similar to the use of “este”. Esta depicts a feminine form of the pronoun, which also means “this one.

On the other hand, for referring to something’s current state rather than its integral part, the word estar is used.

“Es” can be used to refer to something’s more permanent and natural characteristics of something, or it can be used in the passive voice as well. “Es” is used as “it’s” in a sentence.

For example:

esta puerta es abierta por ella
This door is opened by her

No es lo mismo que antes.
It’s not the same as before”

So it’s evident from the examples above that “es” cannot be used in place of “esto” and “esta” or vice versa.

A girl holding a banner with Spanish written on it
A girl holding a poster with a Spanish note written on it.

Are Esta and Este interchangeable?

Esta and este are not interchangeable. This is because each of them has different meanings and is used for different purposes.

Esta is used for indicating masculine singular nouns. On the other hand, este is used to demonstrate feminine singular nouns.

Final Thoughts

  • “Está” and “esta” or “esté” and “este” hold distinguishing components. They are all demonstrative adjectives but have distinct usage.
  • “Está” is used as a feminine adjective referring to “she is/it is”, while “esta” indicates a position of an object which is of feminine type. It’s written as “this”.
  • “Este” refers to a masculine object but is used in place of “this”. While “esté” means “him to be/is to be”, it gives a masculine indication too.

All of these demonstrative adjectives are used as nouns too. They have their own meaning and reference in the context of the English language. As seen in different examples, Spanish doesn’t require verbs to complete a sentence, sometimes the sentence is completed without any verb.

Hence, the Spanish language is not easy to master with its vast use of adjectives and other linguistic components. One needs to focus on small details such as demonstrative genders while learning Spanish rules.

As with any language, immersion, and consistency are key to achieving mastery!

Related Articles:

Click here to view the web story version of these differences.

Skip to content