Spanish Language Blog

Spanish Lesson Intermediate 31 Spanish adjectives with Ser and Estar Posted by on Mar 27, 2012 in Learning, Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary, Videos

In this Spanish lesson we are going to see Spanish adjectives that change their meanings depending on whether they are used with either ser or estar.

We have already looked at the two verbs ser and estar, which are both the equivilant to the verb to be in English, and their different meanings and uses. Here we will analyse in detail how certain Spanish adjectives with ser and estar change their meaning completely. For example, if we say “Soy rico”, using el verbo ser and the adjective rico, it means “I am rich”, whereas if we say “Está rico”, using el verbo estar and the adjective Rico, it means “It is tasty”. You can see that the Spanish adjective Rico completely changes its meaning from rich to tasty. It is important to be aware of all of these little details as you can very easily misunderstand a conversation.

Repeat each phrase after me in the video to work on your Spanish pronunciation and then write out lots of practice sentences in Spanish to see how much you have remembered.

• Ser abierto: To be sociable.
• Estar abierto: To be open

• Ser aburrido: To be boring
• Estar aburrido: To be bored

• Ser atento: To be kind/considerate
• Estar atento: To be attentive

• Ser callado: To be quiet/untalkative
• Estar callado: To be quiet/silent

• Ser cansado: To be tiring
• Estar cansado: To be tired

• Ser católico: To be catholic
• (No) estar católico: (Not) to be healthy

• Ser dispuesto: To be willing
• Estar dispuesto: To be prepared to do something

• Ser fresco: To be cheeky
• Estar fresco: To be fresh

• Ser grave: To be serious (for things or situations)
• Estar grave: To be seriously ill

• Ser interesado: To be selfish
• Estar interesado: To be interested

• Ser listo: To be clever
• Estar listo: To be ready

• Ser molesto: To be annoying
• Estar molesto: To be annoyed

• Ser negro: To be black
• Estar negro: To be furious

• Ser orgulloso: To be a proud person
• Estar orgulloso: To be proud of something or someone

• Ser verde: To be green
• Estar verde: To be inexperienced

• Ser violento: To be violent (a person) / To be awkward (a situation)
• Estar violento: To feel awkward

• Ser maduro: To be mature in age / To be sensible
• Estar maduro: To be ripe

• Ser rico: To be rich (a person)
• Estar rico: To be tasty

• Ser despierto: To be alert
• Estar despierto: To be awake

• Ser pesado: To be heavy / To be an annoying/irritating person
• Estar pesado: To be annoying/irritating (a person – temporary)

We will now look at the difference between the Spanish words bien, bueno, mal and malo. These are four Spanish words that get used a lot in everyday conversation and it is for this reason that it is so important to be clear and confident in their different meanings and uses. Again their meanings can change depending on whether they are used with Ser or Estar. “Ser bueno”, for example, means to be a good person or a good quality item, wheras “Estar bueno” means to be attractive or tasty.

• Ser bueno: To be a good person or to be good at something / To be a good quality item
Antonio es muy bueno: Antonio is a good person
Mi coche es muy bueno: My car is very good quality

• Ser malo: To be a bad person / To be a bad quality item
Antonio es muy malo: Antonio is a bad person
Mi coche es muy malo: My car is very bad quality

• Estar bueno: To be tasty (for food) / To be attractive (for people)
Antonio está muy bueno: Antonio is very good looking (colloquial)
Esta comida está muy buena: This food is very good.

• Estar malo: To be ill (for people) / To be bad tasting (for food)
Antonio está malo: Antonio is ill
Esta comida está mala: This food tastes bad.

• Estar bien: To be healthy or to be ok (for people) / To be correct
Antonio está bien: Antonio is ok
Las respuestas están bien: The answers are correct

• Estar mal: To feel bad (for people) / To be incorrect
Antonio está mal: Antonio feels bad
Las respuestas están mal: The answers are incorrect

In this lesson we have seen how crucial and tricky the Spanish verbs Ser and Estar are. As I said earlier, I recommend making up your own practice sentences using as many combinations of Ser and Estar as you have learned. You should also look out for Ser and Estar in Spanish texts and observe how they are used. I hope you are reading regularly in Spanish now and finding stories and articles that are of genuine interest to you. There is so much free material out there on the internet, but make sure you find things that you really want to read. The best way to study is to study without even feeling like you are studying and the way to achieve this is by always using material that you genuinely enjoy.

I hope you are enjoying my Spanish lessons and look forward to seeing you next time. Follow this link for many more great resources to help you learn Spanish.

¡Hasta luego!

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About the Author: Laura & Adam

Laura & Adam have been blogging and creating online Spanish courses for Transparent Language since 2010. Laura is from Bilbao in northern Spain and Adam is from Devon in the south of England. They lived together in Spain for over 10 years, where their 2 daughters were born, and now they live in Scotland. Both Laura & Adam qualified as foreign language teachers in 2004 and since have been teaching Spanish in Spain, the UK, and online.


  1. Martin:

    Este video es muy bien! Gracias