In the following example (found in an example on one of language learning platforms), why ser is used instead of estar?

Este mensaje es para el jefe.

I know the differences that I've studied on different books, but I can't figure out the reason why in this particular example, ser is used.

  • 1
    Basically, it exists for the boss to read. This is existential -- the message was created for the boss. "Está" is good for location, emotional state, qualitative judgment, that sort of thing. Commented May 21, 2019 at 5:11
  • Welcome, Amir! We have a canonical question about the differences between ser and estar. Try to read it and see if it answers your question. If not, explain why and we'll try to answer your particular question and then add the information to the canonical one.
    – Charlie
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 6:08
  • i think this is not a duplicate, I didn't see the explanation of this usage in those questions
    – Mike
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 20:41
  • @Charlie - It would be nice if our canonical q-a had something that includes this -- but I couldn't find anything. (Maybe something should be added....) Or, if you found something, could you share which part is relevant to OP's question? Commented May 22, 2019 at 4:08
  • I believe this part of the cannonical answer covers OP: "To talk about characteristics (that don't change so often) of things or persons"
    – Brian H.
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


I think in this sentence both es (verb ser) and está (verb estar) can be used, but es is preferred.

Normally, when indicating ownership or delivery for something, we would use es:

This is for you.

Esto es para ti.

But when something is in a place or spot for it to be used then we use estar:

Why is the pen in the drawer?

¿Por qué está la pluma en el cajón?

In your example, if the message is written in paper taking a spot, then you can say:

Este mensaje está para el jefe.

But if the message is something that is moving around, then it HAS to be:

Este mensaje es para el jefe.

Other similar cases of estar:

I'm here to serve you.

Estoy aquí para servirle.

The book is in the office.

El libro está en la oficina.

Another usage when you can use both ser and estar is when you are indicating a purpose:

The pen is meant to be used.

La pluma es para usarla. La pluma está para usarla.

  • 2
    Did you know you can use the International Keyboard for accent marks? It's pretty hard to do Spanish without them. "The pen is to use it". What does that mean?? The Spanish is fine but the English would be: This pen is for being used.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 23:52

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