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Talk About How You Feel: Spanish Expression Exercises Using Estar and Sentir

written by: Elizabeth Huffman • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 8/2/2012

This article will teach you the vocabulary and grammar that will allow you to express your emotions. It also targets cultural differences.

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    In this article, you will learn how to express your feelings. In addition to vocabulary and grammatical information, this article will address the more frequent expression of sentiments Spanish-speakers may or may not exhibit.

    Generally, two verbs are commonly used when expressing emotions: estar and sentir. Note that the present tense of estar should be used when talking about how you feel. Be aware that “estar" is specifically used to indicate your current emotional state.

    Let’s look at the conjugation of sentir, which means “to feel."

    Sentir is a stem-changing verb that also uses indirect object pronouns. The conjugation of sentir looks like this:

    Me siento I feel

    Te sientes You feel (informal)

    Se siente He / She feels

    Nos sentimos We feel

    Se sienten They feel.

    Now that you can conjugate these verbs, use the following vocabulary to formulate your own expressions.

    Contento / a word for happy

    Feliz happy

    Triste sad

    Enojado / a word for angry

    Enfadado / another word for angry (more intense than enojado)

    Tranquilo / a word for calm

    Emocionado / a word for excited

    Preocupado / a word for worried or preoccupied

    Nervioso / a word for nervous

    ¿Cómo se siente? Or ¿Cómo te sientes? How do you feel?

    Remember to change the “o" to an “a" if you are female. You will notice that a few synonyms are given in this list. For example, “enojado" and “enfadado" both translate as “angry", but the verbs used with these words can vary. Generally, sentir enfadado would be more appropriate than estar efadado. On the other hand, estar enojado would be more appropriate if you wish to express the idea that you are angry at that specific moment in time. The same idea can be applied to feliz and contento. Estar would be used with feliz, and sentir would apply to contento. You may have also noticed that “triste" does not seem to have a feminine form. This is because it stays the same regardless of gender.

    Try watching any Spanish soap opera, and notice the frequency that these words are used. Try using these expressions among native Spanish-speakers and you may be in for a cultural surprise. Often, Spanish-speakers will readily express their emotions. By comparison, Americans express their sentiments differently. This is not meant to stereotype anyone. This is just a cultural difference you may notice.

    Use these expressions and you should be able to express how you feel with clarity and accuracy.