Está mal or Está malo


Senior Member
Estats Units, anglès
1) When do I say: Está mal and está malo.
2) Which is correct, both or only one?
3) What about the expression that is similar in English...It's not so bad. How would that be? People always say it very fast, like...No es tan malo, no es(tan) malo, so I don't know which they are using: es/está. Could it be both?

  • Heidivdw

    New Member

    "Ser malo" means indeed "to be a bad, mean person"; SER always refers to a quality of a person or something that is permanent, while ESTAR normally is used to refer to a temporary situation or to appreciate something in a subjective way.
    I think that "estar mal / estar malo" both can be used to refer to a (mental/physical) health condition or to appreciate something (a movie, food,...). I don't know if there is any difference in meaning. You do have to be aware that ESTAR can be combined with an adjective (malo) and an adverb (mal), but SER can only be used with an adjective.

    Y a los nativos: por favor, corríjanme si me equivoco!



    New Member
    I think you should say
    - estoy mal (malo,-a) when you're sick
    - está mal when something is bad

    But maybe a native speaker can help us out...


    Senior Member
    Spain / Spanish
    "está malo" puede refererirse a una persona enferma, y también al sabor de un alimento.

    Las diferencias entre "está mal" y "está malo" son idiomáticas, una traducción al inglés no las aclara.

    El intérprete

    Senior Member
    US English
    I think it depends on the country. In Chile people use estar and malo/mala/malos/malas in the following contexts.

    This answer is incorrect.
    Esta respuesta es incorrecta. <--Correct, but very formal.
    Esta respuesta está mala. <--Every day speech. A Chilean girl even told me one time that I should use this instead of saying "es incorrecta" because I sounded too formal.
    Esta respuesta es mala. :cross: <--This would be like saying that this answer is evil.

    The pedals on my bike are broken.
    Los pedales de mi bicicleta están malos. <--Correct, in Chile.

    There is something wrong with this guy.
    Este chico está mal.

    This guy is evil.
    Este tipo es malo.

    I don't know if the same thing can be said for the rest of America.


    New Member
    Argentine Spanish
    As a native speaker I can say that in...

    ...Spain, "está mal" is used when you're talking about something that has not been done correctly. "está malo/a" is used when you're talking about someone who is sick or ill, or when you're talking about something that is in bad conditions, e.g. "la carne está mala" (i.e. you can't eat it because you may get sick)

    ...Latin America, it depends on the country, but in most of the them you have to use "está mal" in any context. thus it is wrong to say "está malo". Moreover, the term "malo" is used together with the verb "ser" (e.g. es malo, son malos, etc.). if you use "malo" attached to the verb "estar", you REFER TO A PERSON who is not used to being rude, but who is now behaving in that way, maybe because he/she is having a bad time.

    Hope I was clear...
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