I've seen "Está hecho de ..." used to mean "It's made of ...".

Why is the verb estar and not ser? Isn't this an adjective that's permanent and not going to change?

I can understand phrases like "la puerta está abierta" because that's a temporary thing, but what something's made of isn't going to change. This seems especially odd because I know that "Es de ..." can also mean "It's made of ..."

So, why is estar used in this phrase? Is there a rule that I should know for when to use estar with an adjective and when to use ser?

  • hecho is not an adjective, it's a verb. If it was an adjective, it could use es depending on the case, e.g. La puerta es verde, La puerta está rota.
    – Petruza
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 2:29
  • 1
    We Colombians use both. "La mesa está hecha de madera" or "La mesa es hecha de madera". In the plural is even more clear the use of ser over estar "Las mesas son hechas de madera" when speaking in general. If you follow this link for Goolge trend you will see that both are almost equally used.
    – DGaleano
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 15:42
  • In case it interests somebody, I'm Brazilian and here we say (in Brazilian Portuguese) "a mesa é (feita) de madeira" (= the table is made of wood) exactly because the sentences describes a permanent state. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 18:23

6 Answers 6


I think a possible explanation (and how I understand it) is "Está hecho de..." refers to the object being "manufactured with" so the verb refers to the fact that the object was manufactured and "es de madera" refers to the permanent fact that the table is made of wood. Actually you can't say (or is not exactly correct) "el árbol está hecho de madera" "the tree is made of wood" because a tree is not manufacturated. I repeat that this is a personal opinion as a native speaker. Please forgive me for my bad english.

  • 3
    This is a good answer stated in good English Laura. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 12:00
  • Thanks! Writing is my weak point in English, I'm always unsure if what I write is correct.
    – Laura
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 12:21
  • Maybe I have missed something, but it seems to me that the OP's question was not fully answered here. Even if "está hecho de" refers to a manufactured object, logically it still is a permanent state. Given that the general rule is to use "ser" with permanent states and "estar" with temporary states, this usage is an exception of the rule. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 18:29
  • @AlanEvangelista I believe Laura was pointing out that the manufacturing event itself is not permanent, so when using "estar" we are emphasizing the manufacturing event, whereas when using "ser" we are emphasizing the permanent composition.
    – Marcus
    Commented May 18 at 22:09

I can't explain this with technically correct terms, but when using a participle verb, as hecho (and not the passive voice, which would be hecho also) you never use es and rather use está.

The permanent/transitive state rule that you cited is right, but doesn't apply in this case.

In all this cases, está is used and never es (when using participle):
la puerta está hecha de ...
el grupo está compuesto por ...
el queso está fabricado por ...

  • 1
    This is the only correct answer. Es + past participle = passive, está + past participle = state (permanent or not).
    – dainichi
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 1:02

I wouldn't think much of it, just learn as they told you:

La mesa está hecha de madera

La mesa es de madera

It a fixed sentence.


Ser and estar can both be translated as "to be." But its use depends from the context:

La manzana está verde.
(condition: verde = unripe)

La manzana es verde.
(essential characteristic: verde = color green)

It's perfectly valid to say

La mesa está hecha de madera

and to say

La mesa es de madera

Both are the same. But, suppose we need to talk about the condition of the table, then we use:

La mesa es de madera y está deteriorada.

Wich mean the table is made of wood and is damaged.

Ser is used with:

Elements pertinent to your or others' identity

Physical description, personality and character, nationality, race, gender, profession, origen, What things are made of

Things which "Take Place" or "Occur" in Time:

Dates, days, seasons, time, events, concerts, parties


Estar is used with:

Emotional, physical & mental states of (our bodies') being:

Feelings/moods/emotions, physical conditions or appearances, civil state (married, single, divorced, dead) Placement State of Being:

Location of things and people (but not events) Motion State of Being

  • 5
    This doesn't explain the "is made of" case the question is about.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 4:06
  • 1
    Right, and I would consider what something's made of to be an essential characteristic, not a condition. Can you give any details about this specific case? Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 4:07
  • Response to edit: I understand that both "está hecho de" and "es de" are valid, but I'm wondering about why you say "está hecho" instead of "es hecho". Can you clarify about that in particular? Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 4:12
  • @NathanGreenstein see the new edit. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 4:20
  • Okay, thanks for the new info. This still doesn't answer my question though. You say, "ser is used with... what things are made of". So, why can you say "estar hecho de"? Again, I'm asking about that particular case, not the fundamental usage of ser and estar. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 4:23

I second @JoulSauron answer. The sentence "La mesa es hecha de madera" sounds slightly off to me, but not wrong, I would use "ser hecho" in a lyric context. If we want to enphasize an aspect of a manufacturing process by using "hacer", the current custom is to use "fue" (past tense of "ser") in the past, like in "La piramide de Guiza fue hecha de piedras caliza traidas en barca por el Nilo", but "estar" in the present tense: "La piramide de Guiza está hecha de piedras caliza..."

Here are some sentences to ponder over:

  • El coloso de Rodas estaba hecho de piedra.

  • La mesa (de la que ya hemos hablamos) fue hecha en maderas nobles por carpinteros diestros.

  • La mesa fue hecha de acuerdo a lo especificado.

  • La mesa (que ya no está aquí) estaba hecha de roble.

  • La mesa era de roble.


Use 'ser' for materials La casa es de madera.

estar hecho de, for me, is incorrect. I wonder if this is a literal translation coming from English.

I have found nothing in advanced grammar books where using estar hecho de is correct, because it is not a permanent characteristic. No me suena correcto.

  • 1
    As you can see, this question was answered more than 10 years ago and your answer does not provide anything new to what was provided before. Please the how to answer section on the help center. BTW «está hecho de» is correct.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 20:37

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