Italian Language/grammar


Please explain the difference in usage and meaning of the verbs "essere" and "stare". Thank you.

Hi Ron,

Thank you for your question.

To begin, we can make a clear distinction between the two verbs by stating that 'essere' means 'to be' or 'to exist' whereas 'stare' means 'to stay' or 'to be' in an idiomatic sense.

I will go into further detail below on each verb's specific usages. I hope the list will be a useful resource for you to refer back to when unsure of which verb to choose.

Essere can be used:
- For identity - Sono Lauren (I am Lauren)
- To state a job or profession - Sono traduttrice (I am a translator)
- To state religion or political stance - Sono cattolica (I am Catholic)
- To state place of origin - Sono di Bristol (I am from Bristol)
- To tell the time - Sono le sette (It is 7 o' clock)
- To show possession - La macchina di mio fratello (It's my brother's car)
- To state nationality - Sono inglese (I am English)
- To describe physical aspects or characteristics of somebody - Sono antipatica (I am grumpy)
- To describe physical aspects or characteristics of something - La macchina rossa (The car is red)
- To state physical location - Il formaggio nel frigo
- To state a condition or emotion - Sono malato (I am ill)
- To state how something seems or feels to you - Il suolo sporco (The floor looks dirty)

Stare is used far less often and is limited to:
- For idiomatic effect when describing how one is - Sto bene/Sto male (I am well/I feel bad)
- For use in continuous tenses - Sto leggendo il giornale (I am reading the paper)
- For location (however this is falling out of use nowadays and it is far more common to use 'essere') - Il formaggio sta nel frigo

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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