Now it’s time to explain the differences between essere and stare. Essere means “to be” or “to exist”, while stare usually means “to stay” but can be used where English idiomatics use “to be”. The rules are summarized here:
Essere is used to indicate more permanent aspects of people or things, such as –
- Identity – Io sono Carla. (“I am Carla”)
- Profession – Egli è un professore. (“He is a professor.”)
- Origin – Noi siamo di Milano. (“We are from Milan.”)
- Religious or political affiliation – Tu sei cattolico? (“You are Catholic?”)
- Time of day or date – Sono le otto. (“It is 8 o’clock.”)
- Possession – La casa è di Giovanna. (“It is Giovanna’s house.”)
- Nationality – Sono Italiano. (“I am from Italy.”)
- Physical aspects or characteristics of something – Le sedie sono verdi. (“The chairs are green.”)
- Essential qualities of something or someone – Sono vecchio. Sei antipatico. (“I am old. You are unpleasant.”)
- Location – La sedia è in cucina. (“The chair is in the kitchen.”), but also, more rarely – La sedia sta in cucina. (“The chair is in the kitchen.”)
- Condition or emotion that is subject to change – Sono malato. (“I am sick.”)
- Personal observations or reactions, how something “seems” or “feels” – La cucina è pulita. (“The kitchen is/ seems clean.”).
Stare is used to indicate precise locations, in idioms and as auxiliary, such as –
- Idiomatic sentences – Sto bene. (“I am well.”)
- Idiomatic sentences – Sto male. (“I feel bad.”)
- Location – La sedia sta in cucina. (“The chair is in the kitchen.”)
- Continuous tense – Sto correndo. (“I am running.”).
The above lists of when to use essere and stare have to be memorized – using them incorrectly means you will be less likely to be understood, and people will definitely know you are not a native speaker. The same goes for the conjugations of essere and stare. Every Italian verb has a conjugation, and memorizing them just goes along with learning the language.
40 pensieri riguardo “Difference between STARE and ESSERE”
Thank you so much. I never really understood the difference, until now.
How did you get to understand ? I find it so difficult.
Hi! If you need online Italian Lessons contact me here: https://cafetalk.com/i/eyJzYWx0IjoiMjAxMi0xMC0yMyAxNjowOToyNSIsImlkIjoiMTExNDgifQ==/en
grazie mille 😉
Can you really say that “essere” is for permanent conditions and “stare” for temporary? Look at all of your examples, and you’ll see that it isn’t that simple. You can also say “sono qua/qui” “I am here” even though it isn’t a permanent condition. Unfortunately, so many instructors of Romance languages use this “simple” rule, but it isn’t really true. Thank you anyway.
Thanks so much for your interasting comment.
First of all it’s a post for beginners, it means that in every language, not only the Italian one, students need simple but true rules. Then at an advanced level, they can learn how to manage the exceptions.
Second, I can really assert that “essere” is for permanent condition and “stare” for temporary. Io sono qui means “I’m here till you watch at me” so express a permanent condition (“permanent” doesn’t mean “till the end of the world”), Io sto qui means “I’m here, but in few minutes I’ll be in another place, no matter if you’ll watch at me or not”, so temporary.
Thanks for your comment anyway and please, do not forget that Romance instructors do not exist, no one can teach perfectly a language, but tutors can help to understand better it with simple rules and tips.
Excellent reply !!
I also liked your reply. I found your blog very informative. Nevertheless, I am still struggling with essere (permanent) and stare (temporary). I think, that definition works perfect for Spanish (Ser/Estar) but not at all in Italian (in despite of the common exceptions in any language). Maybe, it might help if we “classify” some Italian adjectives as “temporary”? Could you tell me please, what would be those “temporary” adjectives? (Male, contento?). Grazie!
Sure. I’m going to write a post about it soon.
I agree with Memoria’s comment.
I am Spanish and I’m living from 3 months in Italy, and when I was just arrived I had lot of troubles to understand the difference on using Essere/Stare.
The example you wrote above is quite proper for the Spanish language; there we use always “Estar” for temporary actions and “Ser” for permanent situations. So in spanish it´s easier to understand them, but for learning the Italian way, I seriously reccomend to memorize each action with its respective auxiliar verb.
Thanks anyway for the help.
Ciao Serena,, A pleasure to find a blog for italian.. I am italoAmerican and studied in Perugia many years ago. I retain a lot but want to remember more.
I read you above lesson on stare and essere” and comfortable using the verbs. One question.. when you used example..:( la sedia sta in cucina ).. isn’t it more proper to write: ( la sedia sta nella cucina )? I was taught to always use articles before nouns.. Giacomo/Jim
btw , excited to find a blog for la bella lingua italiana!
Thanks so much for this explanation .. I find it really difficult to understand when to use essere & when to use stare, some times it seems completely random. The way I make sense of it, is to think of stare as helping describe what’s happening *now*, or in some particular moment (sto bene, stiamo cuocendo, or even a moment in the past, such as stavo mangiando, etc) .. whereas essere seems more general. Which is probably way too simplistic, but seems to help a little.
you explained it so clearly and perfectly! thankyou!
Per piacere, when using the continuous tense (-ando, endo), do you always use “stare”? For example, to say, “We are entering” do you say “Stiamo entrando” or “Siamo entrando” or are they both correct? Grazie!
Salve! “Siamo entrando” is incorrect. The present progressive in Italian is always formed with the verb “stare” and the gerund -ando, -endo.
Have a look at this post about “presente progressivo” in Italian: https://serenaitalian.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/presente-progressivo-stare-gerundio/
I find your blog interesting. Thank you for your informative blog post, it helps me a lot especially for me as beginner in learning italian.
I want to ask about passato prossimo. For example, La mia zia è arrivato. or La mia zia è andata. I want to ask which one is correct?
Thanks for the compliments and for having written.
The correct forms are:
– Mia zia è arrivata
– Mia zia è andata.
Thanks for your reply in my question. How can I know if the verb is variabili or invariabili?
You should learn by reading a lot, and use them in conversation.
Thanks for reply. I’m curious right now why others verbs like in passato prossimo is invariabili but others are stay variabili.
I got a question what is the difference between voglio essere qui per sempre e voglio stare qui per sempre
The correct form is: Voglio stare qui per sempre. It indicates a location. The second one with essere is wrong.
Ciao Serena, si pensavo lo stesso. si usa stare perche “qui” indica un posto 🙂 Jim
Thanks – very helpful. Thom.
when speaking in the past, how do I know the difference and the use between stare and the essere (imperfetto), ero, era. (I know that in the past stare is conjugated with essere., as I show in my eg.Yes no?)
eg. the statue was built last year. La statua e` stato costruito l`scorso anno.(is correct I know.) Why not la statua era costruito l`anno scorso? How do I know when to use one or the other?
Jack La Spina
The difference is the same as for the present.
La statua è stata costruita l’anno scorso. In this case we use stare because the action of “building the statue” is already finished.
I am going to Positano on Monday 28th September. ‘Sto nervoso’ about speaking Italian! ‘Sono de Scozia’ Have I got the sense right?
Ciao! Sorry for the late reply.
We say “Sono nervoso” e “Sono scozzese”.
“Sto nervoso” e “Sono de Scozia” are wrong.
Per favore, posso dire ‘la statua venne costruita l’anno scorso’ ? Quando si impiega ‘venire’ vs ‘essere’ ?
Grazie Mille !!
Ciao Giovanni. Scusami per il ritardo nella risposta.
Per fare la forma passiva si può usare anche “venire” + “participio passato”.
Però “venire” può essere usato solo con i tempi verbali semplici (es: presente, imperfetto, passato remoto, …), non con i tempi verbali composti (es: passato prossimo, trapassato prossimo, futuro anteriore, ecc.).
Ti faccio un esempio:
Molti considerano la carne poco salutare.
La carne viene considerata da molti poco salutare.
Maria ha lasciato Franco.
Franco *è venuto lasciato* (non è corretto!!!!!) da Maria.
Franco è stato lasciato da Maria.
La frase ” la statua venne costruita l’anno scorso” è corretta.
Hi, Serena. I really like your blog and explanation of this topic for essere/stare. As I’m more native in Portuguese and Spanish and I feel that essere is much used than stare with exception of greetings. I’ve tried to understand the use of stare because most of expressions I use in verbs ‘estar’ of Portuguese/Spanish I find in Italian for essere. Thanks and auguri!
Grazie Alexandre. 🙂
How do I access your blog to ask a question? I googled “Serena Italian Blog” and I couldn`t get it ( got a lot of very nice Italian “narratives”.)Found your answer quite accidentally
Italian question: I still get occasionally confused when conjugating the PP in the past as to the use of essere or avere. I know most verbs are conjugated with avere(transitive) and most remaining verbs(intransitive )are also conjugated with avere, and the “remainder” are conjugated with essere(eg motion or change of status etc) and I have to “memorize” the list of them. But if I`m not sure, is there a way to distinguish? The dictionary? And see which are VT or VI and then sort out the ones that are VI if they are avere or essere? Any help is appreciated.
Jack La Spina
Hi Jack. Sorry for the late reply. The dictionary is the first way to solve VT and VI problem. The second way is to practise spoken Italian and listening to Italian native speakers (radio, conversation…) at least twice a week.
In bocca al lupo con lo studio.
This is great. Essere is more FACTUAL and ESSENTAIL (isn’t going to change in 5 minutes). Stare is more situaltional, emotional, conditional (could change in 5 minutes)
I just started learning Italian. Essere and Stare still do not make sense. Why ? I must really be stupid. My native language is French from Mauritius. I want to understand. I have read a few comments but still trying. I will not give up. I suppose to learn a language by yourself is not easy. Viva Italia
Hello Josee. If you need Italian Online Lessons in order to understand better the subject, contact me here: https://cafetalk.com/i/eyJzYWx0IjoiMjAxMi0xMC0yMyAxNjowOToyNSIsImlkIjoiMTExNDgifQ==/en
Have a nice day
Molto grazie per avere risposta alla mi domande verso ‘venne costruito’ e ‘e stato costruito’ qualche mese fa. E tocca a me dire mi scusa per il ritardo nella risposta. Come faccio lezione con Lei? Ho molto strada da percorrere prima che mi impadronì la Sua bella lingue.
Salve Giovanni. Sono felice che la mia risposta Le sia stata utile. Non esiti a contattarmi ancora in caso di altre domande o dubbi. Per quanto riguarda le lezioni, può consultare il mio profilo in Cafetalk: https://cafetalk.com/i/serena/en
Scelga pure il corso che più Le interessa e prenoti una lezione di prova gratuita. A presto.