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Stare vs Essere – What’s the Difference Between These Italian Verbs?

Italian has multiple verbs that superficially have the same function but are used in very different ways. The reason for this lies in their etymology and development, which over time has changed the way these verbs are used today.

One of the most misleading verb pairs never ceases to complicate the lives of Italian students around the world stare (stay) and become (become).

These two verbs, while sometimes very similar in meaning, are also very different, and if you mistakenly use one instead of the other, you might as well hold a big sign above your head that says “I am A learner”!

Just kidding, it’s possible to learn how to tell the difference stare and become – It just takes some time and practice. Here are their main characteristics and some tips on what to do with these verbs when you encounter them.

stay in italian

the verb “to stare”

stare is an intransitive verb with several uses, one of which is to “keep still” at a physical location or at a particular moment. For example, it can be expressed imperatively:


(ignite. hold still!)

It can also be used to express that one cannot resist doing something.

Jenny couldn’t bear not to say nasty things.

Jani couldn’t help but say something unpleasant.
(Literally Gianna couldn’t stay without saying something unpleasant.)

Likewise, if the slave has the structure No + (auxiliary verb) No + direct object, the meaning reflects something you can’t do without. E.g:

I can’t live without my dog.

I can’t live without my dog.
(Light. I can’t live without my dog.)

stare Can also refer to a temporary situation or a certain situation of being in or staying in a place, for example:

  • stay at home = Stay at home
  • around the fire = around the fire station
  • outside = outdoor
  • Alone = Alone
  • feel good = Get better
Man with Down syndrome using laptop while studying at home
he stands in front of the computer = He is in front of the computer

In the examples below, the verb stare Used to represent the headquarters of an office, store, or any other entity.

Where is the Armani store? – I think stay A stone’s throw from Via Montenapoleone.

Where is the Armani store? – i think it Yes Close to Via Montenapoleone.

Interestingly, in this specific case you can also use the verb become:

DoveYes Ferrari HQ?

Where Yes Ferrari HQ?

you can use it stare Say you live with someone, you are engaged, or have some kind of friendship or relationship with someone. Also, it can be used to show that someone agrees with another person’s ideas or principles.

To understand this better, let’s look at some examples:

Massimo and Francesca live in the same apartment.

Massimo lives in the same apartment as Francesca.

Massimo has been with Francesca for 4 years.

Massimo has been with Francesca for 4 years.

I stand with you in this battle.

In this battle, I stand with you.

Happy Valentine's Day loving couple.
They have been together for many years. = They have been together for many years.

extremely important role stare The game in Italian grammar is continuous tense formation (equivalent to English -ing). Furthermore, stare In its conjugated form comes before the gerund, which is formed by taking the stem of the verb and adding one of them – Ando or – Endo to the end.

  • I’m going (stare + go “go”) = I’m going
  • we are dancing (stare + dance “Dancing”) = we are dancing

It is also used to express the concept of “will”.simply place Every + followed by infinitive verbs stare in its conjugated form.

I gotta go.

I gotta go.

when stare appear with particles wordyou get the verb elder. In this form, it can mean many different things, including “agree”, “agree/agree”, “be interested in (someone) romantically” or “suit for (something)”.

  • I’m not. = I disagree. / I do not support.
  • This book won’t fit in the schoolbag. = This book won’t fit in the schoolbag.
  • It can stay there. = It makes sense/fits.
  • Maria doesn’t fit in at all. = maria is not interested at all (to go out with someone).

Finally we have the expression stay with (someone) Means “it depends on (someone)”.

Whether we go or not is up to you.

Whether we go or not is up to you.

These are the main uses of the verb stare in Italian.But let’s see how this verb become behavior in similar situations.

the verb “to be”

become Both intransitive and auxiliary, etymologically rooted in Latin and even Sanskrit. Its various meanings have to do with the state of being alive, real, existing, or expressing the nature of something. Like “to be” in English, it can be used to describe your mood, origin, and occupation. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Francesco Yes doctor. = Francesco Yes doctor.
  • his Yes his uncle. = he Yes his uncle.
  • bill I’m from Milan. = count Yes from Milan.
  • anthony and mario I’m high. = antonio and mario Yes high.
  • us we are tired. = us Yes tired.

It can be used to determine the location of someone, something or a place. In this sense, it is very similar to the usage of “to be” in English.

  • Pigeon I’m books? = Where Yes books?
  • Enrico Yes at home. = Enrico Yes at home.
  • amalfi coast Yes in Campania. = amalfi coast Yes in Campania.
Beautiful dog covered with blanket
dog under the rug = dog under the rug

verb become Can also be connected to pronoun particles.when the verb is joined with the particle word (word + Yes = Have) or Have For complex numbers, you get the equivalent of “has” and “has”, respectively. They are used to talk about the existence or existence of someone or something.

E.g, no way to overcome obstacles (no way to overcome obstacles), meaning that there is no solution to the problem.

in the sentence Maneskin is also in concert (At the concert, Maneskin was there), the verb means that someone is present, in this case a rock band. But it can also be used with objects.

You can also use Have and Have Refers to something that happened at a specific time, regardless of the past, present, or future. E.g:

There is a football match today.

There is a football match today.

Finally, the expression word + become Can be used to say that you’ve gotten somewhere, that you’ve figured out something, or that you’re ready.For example, the question where are you? (lit. Are you there?) can have all of these meanings at once, and only the context will clarify the meaning:

  • where are you? = Are you there yet?
  • where are you? = do you understand?
  • where are you? = are you ready?

But what happens when you have to choose between using stare and become?

being and being

Whether you use one verb or the other depends on what you want to convey. Although in some cases they must be used correctly according to specific grammatical rules, in other cases they can be used interchangeably.

by that time stare and becomeIt’s helpful to consider whether you’re trying to express a quality or state, or an act of spontaneity.

E.g, i am relaxed (i am relaxed) describes a present situation or state, perhaps only true at the moment it is said.use i am relaxedon the other hand, implies that you have voluntarily decided to do so.

This criterion also applies to other situations, such as car in garage (car in garage). This means the car is parked where I am used to — or in other words, where I park it voluntarily.if you say car in garageuse becomeyou’re implying that it was there at that particular moment, but it may not be true later on.

Here are some other examples to help you understand the differences:

you are fine.

you’re good. / You are a good person.

Refers to a person’s innate qualities.

you’re good!

Be well behaved! / Hold still!

Commands to use on children. If a child chooses to express himself, it becomes a voluntary act.

take a seat.

They sit/sit down.

This just describes the state in which the person concerned found himself.

They sit.

They sit/sit down.

This means their decision to sit is voluntary.

Naughty little girl yelling while knocking on armchair while asking parents to do something
shut up! = Quiet! / shut up!

But remember, become is one of two auxiliary verbs (the other is have) is used in compound tenses that combine both become and stare. This means that the two verbs have the same conjugation in all forms that require a past participle to create a compound tense.

Essere and Stare (perfect tense):

i was (present perfect tense)
I already (perfect past tense)
i was (distant past perfect tense)
i will always (future perfect)

The influence of local dialects

In regional dialects, and thus in informal conversation, stare can replace become. For example, you will hear a native speaker say:

  • George has been in Naples for many years. = George has lived in Naples for many years.
  • I am very happy. = I am very happy.
  • There is a dog in the yard. = There is a dog in the yard.

As you can see, Italians don’t always follow traditional grammar rules, especially when influenced by themselves local language or dialect. But luckily for you, it’s not something you need to worry too much about.The reason is that, regardless of register, standard Italian grammar does not allow interchange become and stare in written or spoken language. It is tolerated only in very informal speeches. However, knowing it exists can help you get to know people better when you’re out and about in Italy.

The correct form of the preceding sentence must use a verb become:

  • George has been in Naples for many years. = George has lived in Naples for many years.
  • I am very happy. = I am very happy.
  • There is a dog in the yard. = There is a dog in the yard.

in conclusion

the difference between stare and become Very subtle, but misuse of these two verbs can seriously affect the meaning of a sentence. If you’re confused about which one to use, remember that the former describes voluntary acts, while the latter should be used to express the true state, quality, and condition of the moment.

About the author: Fabio Guarino

As a linguist and language expert, as a Freelance Content Writer and SEO Marketer Allows me to combine my passions and interests with my career. My favorite thing to do with language is play with words. This is something I have dreamed about since I started traveling the world and learning languages.

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