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Ser vs Estar - Adjectives changing Meaning

how to conjugate spanish verbs adjectives changing meaning large
Below is a list of example adjectives changing meaning when used with ser vs estar. This list is not exhaustive. In reality, you can use ser and estar with any adjective. And your choice between them will always influence the meaning of the adjective and the sentence to some degree. Sometimes the difference will be very small, sometimes significant.

In general, an adjective used with the verb ser describes a characteristic of the subject, something that identifies the subject. An adjective used with the verb estar describes subject’s state of being, condition, appearance.

The differences between ser and estar are explained in detail in a separate article titled Ser vs Estar – the Definitive Guide.

adjective meaning
with ser
with estar
aburrido to be boring to be bored
La fiesta no es aburrida, sólo estoy muy cansada y necesito dormir.
The party is not boring, I’m just tired and need to sleep.
Nunca estoy aburrido en mi trabajo porque hay un montón de cosas interesantes para hacer.
I’m never bored at work because there are plenty of interesting things to do.
atento to be polite
to be kind
to be helpful
to pay attention
to be focused
to be alert
Prefiero este hotel porque el personal es muy atento y la comida muy variada.
I prefer this hotel because the staff is very helpful and the food very varied.
El deportista debe estar atento a las instrucciones de los ejercicios.
The athlete must pay attention to the instructions of the exercises.
borracho to be a drunkard
to be an alcoholic
to be drunk
Luis perdió su trabajo porque es un borracho y cuando toma insulta a la gente.
Luis lost his job because he’s a drunkard and when he drinks he insults people.
Desde el accidente Pedro está borracho cada día y no habla con nadie.
Since the accident Pedro is drunk every day and doesn’t talk to anyone.
bueno to be good to be well
to taste good
to look attractive
¿Cuánto alcohol diario es bueno para la salud?
How much alcohol daily is good for the health?
Esta ensalada está mucho mejor fría, aunque también está buena templada.
This salad is much better cold, but it is good lukewarm as well.
cansado to be tiring
to be tiresome
to be tired
Nada es cansado cuando haces lo que te gusta.
Nothing is tiring when you do what you like.
Decidieron volver a casa porque estaban cansados de esta situación.
They decided to go back home because they were tired of this situation.
despierto to be sharp
to be smart
to be alert
to be awake
La vida me enseñó que hay que ser despierto en cada momento.
Life taught me that you have to be alert at all times.
Comía solo y estaba despierto durante la noche, mientras todos dormían.
He ate alone and was awake during the night, while everyone was asleep.
divertido to be amusing
to be entertaining
to be amused
Es divertido hablar otras idiomas porque se puede comunicar con mucha gente.
It’s fun to speak other languages ​​because you can communicate with many people.
Alicia estaba divertida de verme en el disfraz.
Alicia was amused to see me in disguise.
grave to be serious
to be severe (situation, error)
to be seriously ill
to be in critical condition
Si el error es grave, se desactivarán todas las sistemas automáticamente.
If the error is serious, all systems will deactivate automatically.
Un niño de cinco años atropellado por un camión está grave.
A five year old boy hit by a truck is in critical condition.
guapo to be handsome
to be pretty
to look handsome
to look pretty
Casi me atrevo a decir que es más guapa que su hija.
I almost dare to say that she is more beautiful than her daughter.
Manuel está muy guapo hoy con su traje nuevo.
Manuel looks very handsome today in his new suit.
interesado to be selfish to be interested
Es triste que ellos crean que su hijo es interesado y materialista.
It’s sad that they think their son is selfish and materialistic.
Siempre estaba interesada en ver programas de televisión sobre el mundo submarino.
She was always interested in watching TV shows about the underwater world.
listo to be clever
to be smart
to be ready
to be prepared
¿Si eres tan listo, por qué no lo haces tú mismo?
If you are so smart, why don’t you do it yourself?
Sólo tengo que escribir un mensaje a mis padres y estoy listo para salir.
I just have to write a message to my parents and I’m ready to go.
malo to be bad
to be evil
to be wicked
to be ill
to be in bad shape
¿Cómo saber cuando un perro es malo y muerde?
How to know when a dog is bad and bites?
Otra vez estoy malo con el virus de la gripe que ataca al intestino.
I’m sick again with the flu virus that attacks the intestine.
molesto to be annoying
to be irritating
to be annoyed
to be upset
Es verdad que funciona perfectamente pero el ruido es muy molesto.
It’s true that it works perfectly but the noise is very annoying.
Los padres están molestos porque se preocupan por sus hijos.
Parents are upset because they worry about their children.
nervioso to be easily irritable
to be of nervous character
to feel nervous
to feel irritated
Fufu es muy nerviosa y tiene mucho miedo de otros perros.
Fufu is very nervous and very afraid of other dogs.
No podía dormir porque estaba nervioso por mi primer día en la universidad.
I couldn’t sleep because I was nervous about my first day in college.
pesado to be heavy
to be tough
to be tiresome
to be annoying
Tengo que coger un taxi, mi maleta es demasiado pesada para caminar.
I have to take a cab, my suitcase is too heavy for walking.
No quiero ir a ninguna parte con ella porque está pesada.
I don’t want to go anywhere with her because she’s being annoying.
seguro to be safe
to be reliable
to be certain (situation)
to be sure
to be certain (person)
Evite beber agua del grifo sin hervir en países donde el suministro de agua no es seguro.
Avoid drinking unboiled tap water in countries where the water supply may be unsafe.
Estoy seguro que podemos ayudarte a encontrarlo.
I’m sure we can help you find it.
vivo to be sharp
to be lively
to be intensive
to be alive
Me gusta mucho el color de tu coche, es muy vivo.
I like the color of your car, it’s very intensive.
No fue una buena experiencia, pero me alegro que aún estoy vivo.
It was not a good experience, but I’m glad I’m still alive.

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