Adjectives that work with both ser and estar

Adjectives that work with both ser and estar


You all probably know by now that we have two verbs for "to be" in Spanish: ser and estar.

We use them for different things, and in general we can say that ser is for things not likely to change, more long lasting, and estar are for things that we expect to change quickly, like feelings.

If you're new to this or you feel like you need a recap, you can check out the blog post on ser and estar I wrote.

Today we're going to see some words that we can use with both of them, and why.

Here are they:

Different meaning with ser and estar


Ser bueno/a - to be good (versus bad), it can be a good washing machine, a good person, a good singer...

Estar bueno/a - with food (to be tasty) or with people (to be hot).


Ser malo/a - to be bad (versus good), it can be again an object, a person...

Estar malo/a - with food (to be expired or it has gone bad) or with people (to be ill, informal).


Ser listo/a - to be clever

Estar listo/a - for something or someone to be ready


Ser despierto/a - to be sharp or bright

Estar despierto/a - to be awake


Ser interesado/a - to be self-interested

Estar interesado/a - to be interested (in something or someone)


Ser orgulloso/a - to be a proud or conceited person

Estar orgulloso/a - to be pleased or proud of something or someone


Ser rico/a - to be rich (for people)

Estar rico/a - for food, to be tasty


Ser vivo/a - to be sharp or quick, or full of live

Estar vivo/a - to be alive


Ser molesto/a - to be bothering (someone or something)

Estar molesto/a - to be annoyed


Ser aburrido/a - to be boring

Estar aburrido/a - to be bored


Ser seguro/a - to be confident, sure of oneself

Estar seguro/a- to be sure of something

also, both are to be safe (with ser, as a quality, like a safe situation, and with estar as a state, like being temporarily safe)

Same meaning with ser and with estar

In this case we just know that with ser we refer to the more long lasting quality, and with estar is something temporary, more of a feeling or demeanor or even attitude.

Let's see some:


Ser guapo/a - to be pretty or handsome
Estar guapo/a - to look good (at that time in particular)

With some adjectives that describe appearance we do this: gordo, delgado, joven, mayor rellenito, alto, bajo...

For example, if we say ¡Qué alto está tu hijo! (how tall is your son looking!) we mean that is very tall now, looking tall, maybe comparing with last time we saw him.
Or if we say Manolo está delgado (Manolo is looking slim) it'd be that he maybe lost weight.


Ser tonto/a - to be stupid, or for something to be silly
Estar tonto/a - to be acting silly or dumb in the situation

Ser serio/a - to be a serious person
Estar serio/a - to be acting seriously, have a serious demeanor or expression in the moment.

Ser feliz - to be happy, in general, with one's life
Estar feliz - to be happy in an specific moment or for a specific reason.


Ser ciego/a- to be a blind person
Estar ciego/a - to be blind in a particular situation

Same thing for mudo/a (mute) or sordo/a (deaf).


Sometimes we can have an adjective like limpio (clean) that you could use for an animal or a person (the cat is clean / he's a clean person) or for a place or object (the car is clean).
In this case, the first would be with "ser" (characteristic of the cat, the person...) and the other with "estar" (temporary state).

Another example:

La habitación está ordenada - the room is tidy

Manuel es muy ordenado - Manuel is very tidy (a very tidy person).

Those are the "pairs" that I think are most useful and easy to use, let me know in the comments below if you have any question,

¡Hasta la próxima! / See you next time! :)