Cómo Eres vs Cómo Estás: How & When to Use Them

In Spanish, the verbs ser and estar give us two ways to ask the question, “How are you”:

  1. ¿Cómo estás?
  2. ¿Cómo eres?

But these two phrases are asking very different questions. This quick guide will help you learn (and never forget!) the difference between them. 

What’s the difference between ¿Cómo eres? and ¿Cómo estás?

¿Cómo eres? means “what are you like?”, while ¿Cómo estás? means “How are you?”. 

¿Cómo eres? Refers to how you are as a person — your physical or personality traits. 

¿Cómo estás refers to how you are currently — the way you are feeling at the moment. 

This difference exists because of the two Spanish verbs for to be: ser and estar

  • Ser refers to (semi) permanent qualities in a person – personality traits, height, hair color, religion, gender, profession, etc. 
  • Estar refers to impermanent qualities in a person — mood, feelings, being happy or tired, location, current actions, etc. 

Because of this, Spanish speakers can swap out ser for estar and ask a new question with the same sentence structure. 

In English, we only have one verb (to be), so we need a whole different sentence structure to ask ¿Cómo eres? 

Regarding personality, we say, “What are you like”; regarding physical traits, we say,  “What do you look like?”

You might also hear it in the context of “being yourself” or “just like you are” — as in the popular song Tal como eres.

Does ¿Cómo eres? Have an accent over the O?

Yes. Como (without an accent) means “how”, as in “I like how you cooked the rice”: 

Me gusta como cocinaste el arroz 

Cómo (with an accent) means “how” as in “How did you cook the rice?

¿Cómo cocinaste el arroz?

Anytime you are asking a question with the word cómo, it takes an accent. The two versions (cómo and como) are pronounced identically.

How to respond to cómo eres

If someone asks you ¿Cómo eres?, they are asking about you as a person — not about how you are today. 

So to respond, you’ll tell them something about yourself. Depending on the context, this might be your physical appearance, your personality traits, your religion, or anything else you consider to be part of you. 

¿Cómo eres? is inherently a vague question. It requires context or more elaboration for clarity. So it’s unlikely that you’ll be asked this question without any context. 

Here are some potential responses to ¿Cómo eres?

  • Soy una persona tranquila y callada
    • I’m a calm and quiet person
  • Soy judío
    • I’m Jewish
  • Soy ingeniera química
    • I’m a chemical engineer 
  • Soy una persona que le gusta la fiesta
    • I’m someone who likes to party
  • Soy extrovertido y chistoso 
    • I’m extroverted and funny 

Here are some potential responses to ¿Cómo estás?

If someone asks you ¿Cómo estás? rather than ¿cómo eres?, they’re asking you how you are doing currently – usually your mood or current feelings.

  • Estoy aburrido
    • I’m bored
  • Estoy cansada, llevo una hora esperándote! 
    • I’m tired, I’ve been waiting for you for an hour!
  • Estoy feliz porque hoy estoy de cumpleaños
    • I’m happy because it’s my birthday today!
  • Estoy de buen humor 
    • I’m in a good mood

Got it? Time to practice!

Right now, out loud, answer the two questions in this article:

¿Cómo estás?

¿Cómo eres?

Take 2 minutes to practice answering these out loud. That way, you won’t freeze the first time someone asks you ¿Cómo eres?

Connor Kane, Spanish coach

Thanks for reading! I'm Connor Kane, the Spanish coach and creator behind Breakthrough Spanish. I'm not a native Spanish speaker — which means I know exactly what it's like to learn Spanish from scratch, like you. Breakthrough Spanish helps you save time, get focused, and speak confident Spanish faster.

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