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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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3 Answers

up vote 4 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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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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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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