Italian Language/Essere vs. Stare


Dear Maria,
First, thank you for taking the time to asnwer my question.  You are extraordinary in getting the point across which has helped me immensely.  I stumble frequently with improper use of essere vs. stare and would appreciate many examples from you from each.  Thank you again

Dear Christine,

with regard to the use the verb “essere”  vs. the verb “stare”, firstly I have to tell you that “essere” is used as a linking verb (or copular verb), i.e. a type of verb  which joins the subject with a noun or adjective  just to say something about a person or  thing, as well as to show the position of a person or thing in space or time, as in the following sentences: “Sono Italiana” (I’m Italian) , “Sei molto gentile” ( you’re very kind),  “La  porta è aperta” ( the door is open), “Non essere sgarbato” ( don’t be rude),  “Sarà difficile trovarli” ( it will be hard to find them), “Era una bellissima giornata” ( it was a beautiful day), “Era molto  simpatico” ( he was very nice), “Mi è molto simpatica”( I like her very much),  “E’ Pasqua” (it’s Easter), “Il cibo è già in tavola” ( The food is already on the table), “C’è un capello nella mia minestra” (There's a hair in my soup), “C’è qualcuno?” (Is anyone there?), etc.

Please note that  in all the above-mentioned examples it would be  wrong to use the verb “stare”, though  sometimes  it happens to  hear somebody say “Mi stava simpatico” or “Gli sto simpatico” instead of “Mi era simpatico” or “Gli sono simpatico” that are definitely the correct sentences.

The verb “stare” is used in fact to show the condition of a person or thing as in the following  examples:”Il libro stava sul tavolo” (The book was on the table), “ Lui sta alla cassa” ( he is at the cash desk), “Qui sta il difficile” ( this is the difficulty), “L’albergo sta in cima a una collina”( the hotel is  on a hilltop), “Stai attento” (be careful), “Sto in ansia “ (I’m anxious), “Stai  zitto!” (keep quiet! /shut up!), “Come stai?” (how are you?),  “Stava un po’ meglio” (He was feeling  better), “Come mi sta questo cappello?”( how does this hat suit me?),” Stava  alla finestra” (he stayed at the window),   etc.

Note that in some of  the above-mentioned sentences we could  also use “essere”, and then say for example: “Il libro era sul tavolo”, “L’albergo è in cima a una collina”, “ Lui è alla cassa”,  “Sono in ansia “, “Era alla finestra”,  since in these sentences “essere” and  “stare” are interchangeable.

Apart from the use of “stare” as an alternative to “essere”, the verb “stare” can also mean “to remain” as in e.g. “Stare seduto” ( to remain seated),  “to stay”,   as in “Stare a casa” (to stay at home ), and  “to live” as in “Quando stavo a Milano” ( when I lived  in Milan):

Hope this can be helpful to you.
Anyway, you could  tell me some Italian sentences where you are doubtful as to which verb (essere vs. stare) you should use, so that I can resolve your doubts.

Best regards,

Italian Language

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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