I got the following dialogue:

-- "Yo no se que hacer."
-- "¡ creativo y conseguirás lo que quieres!"

Why do I use "sé" in this case? What is the rule to apply?

To me, the usage of "ser"+adjective is something permanent, something that a person always is, and "estar"+adjective something if temporal nature. In this sentence the meaning is to be creative at that particular moment to find a solution to some given problem, so why can't I say "¡Está creativo!"?

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, Está is not the imperative form of Estar. The sentence would be ¡Estate creativo!.

El imperativo de la segunda persona del singular solo se usa en forma pronominal (estate): Estate tranquilo.

According to RAE, Estar means

6 intr. Hallarse en un determinado estado. Estar triste, rico, sordo, convencido, satisfecho.

In your example (using the adjetive creativo), the person is not creative at that moment, so you cannot say to estar something if the person is not in that situation yet.

Sé creativo y conseguirás lo que quieres.

The person is not creative yet.

Estate creativo y conseguirás lo que quieres.

If you maintain a creative state you will get whatever you want.

EDIT: Depending on the adjective you will use estar or ser to form the imperative in the sense you explain in your question. For example,

Sé listo y vete a casa. (Be inteligent and go home.)

Is not the same as

Estate listo a las 18:00. (Be ready at 18:00.)

The first one is the same situation as the sentence in your question (listo means smart/inteligent) whereas the second one has a different meaning (listo means ready/prepared). With creativo the meaning of the adjective is not changing, but it does the situation, as I explained.

There are some adjectives that cannot be used with ser or estar, for example:

¡Estate quieto!

You cannot say Sé quieto, and

Sé bueno.

You cannot say Estate bueno.

  • No, the imperative form would be Esté
    – dockeryZ
    Apr 3, 2014 at 17:49
  • Thanks for pointing out that the 2nd pers. sing. imperative of estar is used with the pronoun te. What I don't quite understand is your statement "In your example, the person is not creative at that moment, so you cannot say to estar something if the person is not in that situation yet." Isn't this the meaning of the imperative that you want someone to be what he is not at the moment?
    – Stan
    Apr 4, 2014 at 7:13
  • @Stan I added an explanation to what I wanted to say. I hope it helps :)
    – itziki
    Apr 4, 2014 at 7:51

The reason is not obvious but I'll try to explain it.

As you say one person wants that the other change to a creative state, but implicitly wants that the change remains to modify the person's behavior. So the verb for a permanent state as you say is "Ser", not "Estar".

Anyway, is that kind of things inherent to the language.

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