Spanish verbs: (Estar) + mode adverbials “bien”, “mal”

verbs estar bien mal

In Spanish, los adverbios modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and even sentences. They express circumstances, such as manner, place, time, quantity, affirmation, and doubt, among others. They even answer questions such as when? where? how? In what way?. On the other side, the structure Estar + adverbio is very popular. And, when we talk about it, you might wonder when it comes estar into play.


Spanish speakers generally use the structure estar + adverbio when they are going to say if something is right or wrong. Yet, It is not the only way we can use estar + adverbio. Then, this writing, you will learn other ways in which you can use Estar + adverbio and how to build useful sentences with this structure.


How to use estar + adverbio


There are different ways to use the verb estar + adverbio. Adverbs of manners are the most common like bien o mal, for example. But, we will show you some other adverbs you can use with this structure.


First, let’s talk about the adverbs of quantity. These adverbs indicate to what degree the action of the verb occurs. Or also, or the quality expressed by the adjective they modify. For example,


Si te sigues tardando así vamos a estar nada de tiempo en la fiesta. /

If you keep being late like this, we’re going to be at the party in no time.


Besides, we have adverbs of place, these are those that express a direction or location. And we also have those of time, which are those that offer a temporal reference, either of duration or frequency. For example,


Las butacas más baratas están muy lejos del escenario.

The cheapest seats are far away from the stage.


No se si voy a estar ahora en su casa, yo te aviso mas tarde.

I don’t know if I’m going to be at his house now, I’ll let you know later.


We also have the adverbs of manners, these express how the action of the verb occurs. For example,


Los músicos están bien ubicados. / The musicians are well placed.


There are also interrogative and exclamatory adverbs. These allow the formulation of interrogative and exclamatory sentences. For example,


¿Dónde están nuestros asientos? / Where are our seats?


Finally, there are the relative adverbs. These serve as a link between the relative clauses and the main clauses. For example,


¿Estás donde? yo no te veo. / are you where? I do not see you.


No, yo no quiero estar como tu. / No, I don’t want to be like you.


When to use estar bien or estar mal


The Spanish words bien and mal are adverbs of manners. So they don’t need to coordinate in gender and number with a noun. As said, Spanish speakers frequently use these two adverbs with the verb estar. Here are some examples,


La reunión estuvo muy bien, deberíamos repetirla algún día, pero invitamos a nuestros otros amigos.

The meeting was very good, we should repeat it one day, but we invited our other friends.


Mi laptop está mal configurada, no entiendo por qué.

My laptop is misconfigured, I don’t understand why.


You can use estar bien or mal when we want to express your opinion on someone’s health. For example,


Javier está bien. La operación fue un éxito. / Javier is fine. The operation was a success.


No estoy mal, solo estoy adolorida, pero al menos ya no me duelen tanto los huesos.

I’m not bad, I’m just sore, but at least my bones don’t hurt as much anymore.


Likewise, you can use estar bien and estar mal when you talk about mood. For example,


Yo estoy muy bien, gracias a Dios, ayer me dieron los resultados de los examenes y sali excelente!

I am very well, thank God, yesterday they gave me the results of the exams and I came out excellent!


Ayer estuve mal. Me sentí un poco triste por lo de mi papá, pero sé que la vida avanza. Yesterday I was bad. I felt a little sad about my dad, but I know that life moves on.


Besides, you can use estar bien and estar mal when we say if something is correct or not. For example,


Este ejercicio de derivadas está bien, pero recuerda para la próxima comenzar con las integrales.

This derivatives exercise is fine, but remember for the next one to start with the integrals.


Gramaticalmente eso está mal, pero no te preocupes, de todos modos el Español no es fácil. / Grammatically that’s wrong, but do not worry, Spanish is not easy anyway.


The structure estar + bien/mal is also helpful when you talk about something that you consider acceptable or not. This can be ethical or social.


Engañar está muy mal, y más si es a tu pareja, eso para mi no tiene perdón.

Cheating is very bad, and even more so if it is your partner, that for me has no forgiveness.


Ser honestos está bien, ese es el regalo más grande que le puedes dar a una persona.

Being honest is fine, that is the greatest gift you can give a person.


Ser + adverbio vs estar + adverbio


Since the verb “to be” is ser or estar in Spanish, some Spanish students get confused when using ser + adverbio or Estar + adverbio. You can use the verb ser to describe permanent states that last a long time while estar to describe temporary states/moods. Sometimes, native speakers use the verb ser to describe the intrinsic characteristics of a person or an object stably and permanently. For example,


La comida es muy buena. / The food is very good.


The verb estar, on the other hand, describes the temporary state of a person or an object. For example,


La comida está muy buena. / The food is very good.


In conclusion, the most common way to use the structure estar + adverbio is with bien or mal. When we use estar bien or mal, we refer to what we can see subjectively or what is happening. This can be due to illnesses, moralities, tests, and exercises, among others. But, if we pay more attention to the differences and details, we will be able to master this structure in a short time.

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