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Using Dónde and Estar to Ask for Directions in Spanish

2 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Driving and Getting Around by Car in Spanish-Speaking Countries

The Spanish verb estar (ehs-tahr), which means to be (in a temporary state), has a special relationship with the question ¿dónde? (dohn-deh), which asks where. This relationship exists because looking for directions is a sign of movement — something that’s considered by most as a nonpermanent state of being. So you use a form of the verb estar instead of ser (sehr) (to be [in a permanent state]).

So how exactly can the two words be used together to help you find where you need to go or express where you’re going? Take a look at these examples:

  • ¿Dónde está el Museo de Larco? (donh-deh ehs-tah ehl moo-seh-oh deh lahr-koh) (Where is the Larco Museum?)

  • ¿Dónde estamos ahora? (dohn-deh ehs-tah-mohs ah-oh-rah) (Where are we now?)

  • ¿Dónde está el Hotel del Camino? (dohn-deh ehs-tah ehl oh-tehl dehl kah-mee-noh) (Where is the Hotel del Camino?)

  • ¿Dónde estuviste anoche? (dohn-deh ehs-too-bvees-teh ah-noh-cheh) (Where were you last night?)

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