'Soy Casada' or 'Estoy Casada'?

Adjectives of Marital Status Can Take Either 'Ser' or 'Estar'

Una boda mexicana. (A Mexican wedding.). Photo by Christian Frausto Bernal; licensed via Creative Commons.

Question: Which is correct — soy casada or estoy casada? I've seen both ser and estar used with casada.

Answer: The quick answer is that they're both correct! With adjectives of marital status — ones other than casado (married) include soltero (single), divorciado (divorced) and viudo (widowed), along with their feminine equivalents — estar and ser are more or less interchangeable.

Although the differences between ser and estar are usually distinct, that just doesn't seem to be so with the adjectives of marital status, where you'll often hear the two verbs used with little difference in meaning. In some areas, however, one or the other may be preferred, and estar probably has an edge in everyday speech, at least with casado.

Even so, use of estar can suggest (but doesn't always) there has been a change in marital status. Thus, you might ask a new acquaintance "¿es usted casado?" if you see his marital status as part of his identity. But you might ask a friend you haven't seen for a while "¿estás casado?" as a way of asking, "Have you become married since I saw you last?" or "Are you still married?"

The same is true with very few adjectives, such as gordo ("fat") and delgado ("thin"), that describe personal characteristics. Both "es gordo" and "está gordo" can be used to say "he is fat," for example. The latter often suggests that there has been a change, while the former may suggest merely a description of the way a person is. So the choice of verb can suggest an attitude — estar may suggest a state of being at the moment, while ser may suggest an inherent characteristic. In fact, that is the safest way to make your verb choice, and estar must be used where indeed there has been a change. But in everyday descriptions, the distinction of meaning isn't always a sharply clear one.