Is there any difference between "estar inquieto" y "estar preocupado"?

Are they referring to different degrees of worry?

(Could you please verify the differences in meaning between the sentences below?)

  1. ¿Estás inquieto por la mañana?
  2. ¿Estás preocupado por la mañana?
  • I think most literal translation of "inquieto" would be "unsettled". OTOH, "preocupado" means just "worried"
    – vartec
    Jun 21, 2013 at 22:44
  • Cadenza, I understand you're having trouble understanding this. However I don't know why. You can imply that someone is "inquieto" because he is very worried("preocupado"). But you can't compare "inquieto" and "preocupado" because they're different things. Being "inquieto" does not necessarily means someone is worried("preocupado").
    – bysanchy
    Jun 25, 2013 at 20:58
  • Ps: "por LA mañana"
    – bysanchy
    Jun 25, 2013 at 21:00
  • Hi Sanchy, "You can imply that someone is "inquieto" because he is very worried("preocupado")", do you mean that here "inquieto" means as someone being too worried, he anxiously wants to do something? The latter part is what "inquieto" meaning?
    – user468
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:51
  • Does "inquieto" similar to "eager"?
    – user468
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


It's quite hard to verify the differences in meaning between the sentences above because "estar inquieto/preocupado" shouldn't be a constant in someone's life . But I'm gonna try to use two other sentences as an example.

"Estoy inquieto por el examen"
"Estoy preocupado por el examen" 

In the first one you are anxious about your test, it wasn't really hard/you now you knew the answers for most of the questions/etc. so you are not worried to fail, however you don't know for sure and you would like to now your grade as soon as possible.

On the second one, you are definitly worried. Either the test was really hard o your final note depens on it.

"Inquieto" however could mean more things like "misbehaving" as the others have answered

  • you're welcome, I'm glad I could help
    – Newbie
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:10

Yes there is.

Being "preocupado" is being worried.

Being "inquieto" has more to do with being anxious due to worryness

You can also use "inquieto" for someone who's always doing things, like a kid with a lot of energy. "That kid is 'inquieto'" "Ese niño es inquieto"

  • 1
    So can I say "inquieto" has a "deeper" worry than "preocupado"?
    – user468
    Jun 24, 2013 at 15:25
  • 1
    They're different things. Being 'inquieto' might be a consequence of being too worried. You can't compare 'inquieto' and 'preocupado'.
    – bysanchy
    Jun 24, 2013 at 18:26

Yes, there is a difference. In addition to what sanchy said, inquieto can also mean curious. For example, to have an inquietud means to have a desire about something therefore to want to make a move and not be quiet and to be inquieto means to be in a state of desire to do something about what's in your mind or heart. In that sense is similar to preocupado but you're not worried.

  • I am confused. So does ¨inquieto¨ have the sense of worry?
    – user468
    Jun 24, 2013 at 15:24
  • 1
    No. Inquieto does not imply worry. It's more like a yearning that causes you to want to take action. Jun 24, 2013 at 19:10
  • Cadenza, in your update, although sentence 1 is grammatically correct, as a native speaker, I would not use it. Sentence 1 is too abstract and doesn't make sense in my mind. I could, however, say something like; "Tengo una inquetud que quiero explorar en el futuro" or, "Tengo inquietues que quisiera explorar en el futuro". Sentence 2 is correct and is something that someone would say. Hope this helps. As you know, languages have unique nuances. Of course sometimes those nuances do not necessarily stand the test of time across centuries, just like words don't either. Jun 25, 2013 at 18:08
  • Hi Adam, I looked up in "wordreference" and noticed there is an explantion for "inquieto" as : inquieto - adj - (agitado) worried, uneasy, troubled adj. It says "worried", no?
    – user468
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:59
  • hmm, the thing about languages is that they tend to be more descriptive than prescriptive. That is, meaning becomes how people use words and meaning can change overtime. I would like to see a reference where it has been used that way. I went to the site and it's listed as a secondary meaning but primarily "restless", "lively" & "fidgety". Those are the meanings that first come to mind as a native speaker. Again, maybe someone has used it that way and languages do change, if someone's used it to mean "worried" I'd be curious to see where. Jun 26, 2013 at 16:08

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