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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 different.

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

It is a little bit difficult to understand the difference between “está and esta” and “esté and este”,

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

You’ll get to know the usage of these basic adjectives in Spanish by just reading this article. So let’s begin!

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

What does “esta” mean in English?

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

Such as;

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 it indicates that they’ve been discussing her.

Is Este formal or informal?

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

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 a fact.

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 now there is no confusion between está and esté. as the examples have given a clear understanding of both the words.

What is the difference between ‘esto’ and ‘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 for 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 the concepts of Spanish grammar. Check this out!


“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 them.

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 to. 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, the Spanish version of demonstrative adjectives shall be discussed.

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 of the examples for the use of demonstrative adjectives in Spanish along with their English translation

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 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 Este/Esta.

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

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

These examples will make you understand better:

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”.

Checkout this video to know the correct usage of Spanish grammar.

How to use This, These, That, and Those in Spanish

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 is evident from the examples above that “es” cannot be used in place of “esto” and “esta” and vice versa.

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

Are Esta and Este interchangeable?

No, esta and este can’t replace each other. This is because, each of them have different meanings and are used for different purposes. Esta is used to indicate masculine singular nouns. While on the other hand, este is used to demonstrate feminine singular nouns.

Final Thoughts

The final verdict is that “está” and “esta” or “esté” and “este” hold distinguishing components. They all are 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 is written as “this”

Contrastingly, “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 context to the English language. As seen in different examples, Spanish doesn’t acquire verbs to complete a sentence, sometime the sentence is completed without any verb.

Hence, Spanish language is not easy to comprehend with its own comprehensive use of adjectives and other linguistical components. One needs to focus on small details such as demonstrative genders while learning Spanish rules.

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