Ser vs estar in Spanish is a never-ending trouble for students who struggle to master it but, even at the highest levels, it might be a headache. The problem is not only learning when to use ser or estar to express feelings, states or locations; there are also many adjectives that change their meanings depending on the introductory verb.

Today, we’re going to learn some of these changes and examples to put them in practice.

Ser vs Estar in Spanish: it’s not necessary ser listo in order to estar listo

¿Estás listo para aprender ser vs estar in Spanish? We hope the answer for this question is . The adjective listo after the verb estar means ‘ready, prepared’. It’s usually followed by the preposition para to show the action that the subject is ready for.

As a slang, estar listo is also used to show disagreement in an ironically way and say that somebody is absolutely wrong.

On the other hand, you can ser listo but you might fail an exam because no estás listo. So, being intelligent or smart is not enough. That’s the sense of this adjective after the verb ser.

Si crees que vas a aprobar el examen DELE así, ¡estás listo! (you’re wrong!) Aunque seas muy listo (you’re very smart), todavía no estás listo (you’re not ready). Necesitas más práctica.


You need to estar atento if you want to ser atento

Ser vs estar in Spanish also take the adjective atento to their war. If you were attentive to the general explanations about the differences between ser and estar, you can guess that estar atento means ‘to be attentive’ with the sense of ‘vigilant’ or ‘watchful’. Here, the verb shows an state.

Nevertheless, ser atento should express a trait of someone’s personality: to be attentive or solicitous.

Nuestros profesores en Spanishviaskype siempre están atentos (they are watchful) a las necesidades de sus estudiantes: son muy atentos (they are very solicitous) con ellos.

Ser vs Estar in Spanish: orgulloso or how not to make a mess

The adjective orgulloso/a is very dangerous in Spanish. You might want to pay someone a compliment, but actually you might be insulting them. As it happens with ‘proud’ in English, it can have a positive or negative meaning. Estar orgulloso de alguien is a very good emotion because you feel satisfied and pleased because of that person’s actions.

However, ser orgulloso is something we don’t want to be called, because, who wants to admit that he or she is arrogant? Even arrogant people would deny that truth.

Aunque mi hijo es orgulloso (he’s proud or arrogant), está intentando mejorar. Por eso, estoy orgulloso de (I’m proud of) su esfuerzo.

If estás aburrido is because es aburrido

Ser vs estar in Spanish also concerns the adjective aburrido. In this case, the difference is a matter of the grammatical voice: the active and passive sense. In English, they mark this meaning adding the endings -ing (active) and -ed (passive) to many verbal adjectives. So, something that is boring, es aburrido in Spanish. On the contrary, if someone is bored, this person está aburrida in our language. As you can see, it’s the verb the one that shows that sense.

In consequence, be careful about using the wrong one, because you could be insulting someone by accident… again!

Si estás aburrido (if you are bored) en tu academia de idiomas, reserva una clase de prueba en Spanishviaskype; nuestras clases nunca son aburridas (our lessons are not boring).

There are many other adjectives that are good examples of the fight between ser vs estar in Spanish: rico, despierto, bueno, malo, interesado, vivo… Do you know all of them? Sure? Well, leave below some examples to show the differences using ser and estar with these adjectives. If you want to learn more of these, reserve some lessons with us and start learning Spanish: ¡estamos listos!