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Can anyone explain what the difference between status and state is when I talk about the condition or situation of an object?

Here's what I got from Longman English Dictionary.

status: a situation at a particular time, especially in an argument, discussion etc.

state: the physical or mental condition that someone or something is in

For example, how do you interpret these two sentences:

  1. What is the current status of this project?

  2. What is the current state of this project?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A hotel room might have a status of standard, de-luxe or honeymoon-suite. That same room may have a state of being dishevelled or clean.

A project progresses through a series of predefined stages. Its status tells you where it is in that series. Its state might be in disarray or on target regardless of status.

In considering this I asked myself two questions: What is the status of X? What sort of state is X in?

In reality, I suspect there is considerable overlap in the usage of state and status.

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In that context, status would refer to the progress of a project, e.g. in testing, in preliminary research, etc. State would refer more to the condition of a project, e.g. green-lighted, cancelled, on hold for financial analysis.

When referring to a specific object, you typically want to use state, e.g. cold, hot, liquid, solid (this refers to the object's physical state). The status of an object is rarely used or mentioned, unless it is something that moves or transforms, in which case it is used to mean distance or progress.

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Thank you very much. I wish I can pick both as my answers...but the system won't allow me. –  Raymond Feb 17 '11 at 21:19
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I find the systems engineering definition useful here. A system is in a certain "state" at a point in time when the system meets a pre-defined set of criterion, i.e. on shopping website, a user's shopping cart enters a different state when the customer adds an item to it.

A "status", in the context of states of a system, describes the transition into a state. For example, the user of our online shop may attempt to add an item to their cart. The transition into the state that describes the item being in the cart may be blocked if the status of the transition signals an error (i.e. the item is out of stock).

In systems engineering, these two words have very specific meanings. From the definitions above, it could also be inferred that a state exists (or does not exist) irrespective of time. A status, however, describes the outcome of an action at a particular point in time. The difference here, I think, holds true even outside the context of systems engineering.

In the context that you describe, the definitions above are still relevant. The state of the project maybe described as, "component A is complete but component B is not; the project is 60% complete overall". This description of the state of the project would be the same at any point in time given unchanged progress of components A and B and unchanged outside influences. The status of the project however would almost certainly change with time, likely with respect to a deadline.

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The project can be in the state of preparation, design, implementation or verification, while the status of the project should be more accurate, detailed depiction, such as 70% completed. Roughly speaking a state is a series of sustainable and consistent status, a status is a slice of state at some special point.

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Status is the precision of describing the situation while state is a general description.

Project state: It is in phase 4, we have some issues that are raised such as delays on deliverables

Project status: Deliverable x is 2 weeks pass due , expert M still sick and can not come to work

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[citation needed] –  FracturedRetina May 22 at 15:55
    
“Deliverable x is 2 weeks pass due” is gibberish, not English. The “precision of describing the situation” also makes no sense, and the two examples (or the parts of them that make any sense) show no perceivable distinction in meaning. In all, this answer doesn't make any sense. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet May 22 at 22:26
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