What is the best way to say that something no longer works or is broken? I'm just thinking about it now.

Is it right to say it like this?

Mi tarjeta no trabaja nunca más. My card doesn't work anymore.

But I know the verb 'trabajar' as "to work" in relation to a job.

So which is right?

  • 2
    Trabajar can mean both to work as in "to labour" and to work as in "to function".
    – jacobo
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:41

4 Answers 4


According to Cambridge Dictionary:

broken: damaged, no longer able to work:

My watch is broken.

So, in English, you can use the adjective broken when you want to say that something is no longer working.

In Spanish, literal translation would be roto that according to RAE:

roto, ta:
Del participio de romper; latín ruptus.

  1. adj. Andrajoso y que lleva rotos los vestidos. U. t. c. s.

  2. adj. Agotado o muy cansado.

And from WordReference (Diccionario de la lengua española © 2005 Espasa-Calpe):

p. p. irreg. de romper.

  1. adj. Que está quebrado o partido en dos o más partes.
  2. Averiado, que ha dejado de funcionar.
  3. Andrajoso, que lleva la ropa rota.

So you may say:

"Mi tarjeta está rota"

But being more accurate:

"Mi tarjeta está averiada"

Said so, the status of your card is indicated, but not necessarily the fact that your card has stopped working, so you can use the word trabajar that means according to RAE:


  1. Ocuparse en cualquier actividad física o intelectual.
  2. Tener una ocupación remunerada en una empresa, una institución, una institución, etc.
    ^ Translation: Have a paid occupation in a company, an institution, an institution, etc. (related to job)
  3. Ejercer determinada profesión u oficio.
  4. Dicho de una máquina: funcionar
    ^ Translation: Said of a machine: work

And funcionar is a synonym for trabajar, that means (from RAE):

  1. Dicho de una persona, de una máquina, etc.: Ejecutar las funciones que le son propias.
    ^ Translation: Execute the functions that are his own.

Note that the verb funcionar is more adapted to the concept that something has stopped fulfilling its role or function

In this way, when you want to say that something is no longer working or broken, you can say:

Mi tarjeta ya no trabaja.
Mi tarjeta ya no funciona.

Or use some other conjugation according to the context:

Mi tarjeta ha dejado de trabajar.
Mi tarjeta ha dejado de funcionar.

Or use both meanings to be clearer in the meaning:

Mi tarjeta esta rota y ya no funciona.
Mi tarjeta esta rota y ya no trabaja.

I am assuming that the term "card" refers to a physical object with a specific function such as a video card (electronic), since for "card", in other meanings, it hardly fits the fact that "a card is working" and therefore can not stop doing it.

  • 1
    Yo no usaría "trabajar" con una tarjeta, ni tampoco usaría "roto" a menos que físicamente lo estuviera. "Estropeado" o "averiado" me suena mucho mejor.
    – roetnig
    Aug 1, 2018 at 21:23
  • Si, si es que se refiere a una tarjeta de video (informatica) por ejemplo, use ese objeto puesto en la pregunta se lo menciona. -respecto a lo otro tienes razon, solo que en la pregunta se enfoca mas sobre el hecho de que algo ha dejado de funcionar, de todas formas añadire tu recomendacion. GRacias Aug 1, 2018 at 21:26
  • not completely agree with the answer.... broken as the answer says is when something is not capable of working anymore, so a lot of synonims for that "estropeado, descompuesto, dañado, etc. but you have to be carefull when you use roto and quebrado in spanish as roto is mostly for soft things but quebrado is only for hard(rigid) things (or things with hard parts)
    – Mike
    Aug 2, 2018 at 18:52

The most common way to say that something doesn't work would be "está roto" (literally "it's broken").

So you can say:

Se (me) ha roto la tarjeta my card is broken

No (me) funciona la tarjeta my card is not working

La tarjeta está estropeada the card it's damaged/ruined

Note that the adjective "averiado" is mostly used for machines or somewhat complex mechanisms:

La máquina de refrescos está averiada the vending machine is out of order

Se me ha averiado la tele The TV set

Tengo el coche averiado en el taller the car

but would be extremely strange to use averiado/a for a credit card.

There's also a very informal way (at least in Spain) that would be that something "no va", literally (something) it's not going as in:

no me va la tarjeta/no va mi tarjeta.


Trabajar can be used in this context, although it's more common to use funcionar. But note that nunca doesn't work in your sentence. I suppose you're aiming for "It doesn't work any more"; "any more" is ya no:

Mi tarjeta ya no funciona.

I can't imagine talking about a credit card being broken, in English or in Spanish, but I'll outline the two most common ways of expressing the adjective broken:

  • Descompuesto: this is generally used for a complex system, and it suggests that a repair is possible

  • Roto: this gives less of an idea of a repair being possible


El ascensor está descompuesto | The elevator is broken

Notice that an elevator is a complex system.

Mis lentes están rotos | My glasses are broken

In this case, there was physical damage, e.g. scratching or snapping.


En el contexto de un aparato o elemento que dejó de funcionar correctamente también se puede usar la palabra "dañado".
Por ejemplo:

El teléfono está dañado
El televisor está dañado

  • I'm not sure we could conclude that the gadget doesn't work. Es decir, si el aparato está dañado, podría ser que todavía funciona. El daño podría ser superficial. Aug 3, 2018 at 3:35

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