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In Brazilian Portuguese, both "estar louco" and "ser louco" may be used literally to refer to an insane person in a madhouse or figuratively to someone with a wild, unpredictable behavior. The only difference is that the former expression focuses on the current state and the latter implies that it is a permanent state.

Are "estar loco" and "ser loco" used identically in Spanish? Could I use both when talking to a friend? Example:

  • ¡Estás loco si quieres tomar cerveza ahora!
  • ¡Eres (un) loco!
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In Spanish, "loco" works just as described in Brazilian Portuguese.

With an article in the singular, "ser un loco/una loca" will tend to describe a temporary behavior, not a mental condition.

  • Está loco. Tienen que llevarlo a un psiquiatra. (mental condition, usually temporary or new)

  • Es loco. No puedes hablar con él como si fuera una persona cuerda. (permanent mental condition)

  • ¡Está loco! ¡Cómo va a hacer eso! (behavior)

  • ¡Es un loco! ¡Cómo va a hacer eso! (behavior)

  • "Es loco" is unusual in Spain, we'd say either "es un loco" or "está loco" and in both cases it may refer to someone that is literally insane or just acts as one – Patricio Sep 23 '19 at 11:09
  • @Patricio Here it can work as an adjective with "ser" just like "es psicótico". – Gustavson Sep 23 '19 at 12:17
  • I'd say that "es una locura" is more frequent in Spain – Patricio Sep 24 '19 at 14:29

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