Ser/Estar + adjective

The following list shows the most important adjectives that change their meanings depending on whether they are used with ser or estar. As a rule of thumb, we can remember that ser is used when something is fundamentally a certain way; estar is only used for temporary conditions.

adjective ser estar
agrio be sour (by nature, e.g. lemons) be sour (milk)/taste sour (e.g. candy)
alegre be happy (by nature) be happy (due to a particular circumstance)/
have a buzz
alto be tall be tall (for one’s age)
ancho be broad/wide be too far for s.o.
blanco be white be pale (with horror)
bueno be good be healthy
ciego be blind (biologically) be (temporarily) blinded
despierto be alert be awake
guapo be pretty/handsome look pretty/handsome
joven be young look young
listo be smart be done/ready
molesto be annoying/bothersome be embarrassed
nuevo be new be (like) new
orgulloso be proud be proud of
perezoso be lazy (by nature) be feeling lazy (on a certain day)
rico be rich taste good
rojo be red turn red (with embarrassment)
verde be off-color/risque (a joke) be unripe/immature
viejo be old look old

Ser/Estar + participle

On this list you will find participles whose meaning changes depending on whether they are used with ser or with estar.

abandonado be sloppy/careless be neglected/unkempt
abierto be open-minded be open/opened
aburrido be boring be bored
agradecido be grateful (by nature) be grateful (for a particular thing)
callado be taciturn not say anything
cansado be exhausting/stressful be tired
considerado be considerate/thoughtful be respected/admired
despistado be scatterbrained (by nature) be absentminded (in a particular situation)
desenvuelto be casual/ingenuous be unwrapped/unpacked
divertido be funny be in a good mood
equilibrado be balanced/equal be balanced (at a certain point in time)
interesado selfish/acquisitive be involved/concerned in sth.
leído be well-read (a person) be read (e.g. a book)
parado be shy be unemployed
pesado be annoying/intrusive get on one’s nerves