Difference Between Stare and Essere

Stare vs Essere

Stare and Essere are words in Italian that are both used to mean ‘To Be’. There are subtle differences in usage as well as the contexts in which one or the other is to be used. This makes it confusing for people learning Italian, as despite the fact that Stare and Essere are more often than not used interchangeably, they still have differences that will be highlighted in this article.

In general, it is safe to say that Stare stands for ‘To Stay’ while Essere is used in cases where it means ‘To Exist’ or ‘To Be’. However, even Stare can be used to mean ‘To Be’, making it really confusing for non natives. There are rules that help people learning Italian to be careful in choosing between Stare and Essere. Some of these important rules are described below.

It is prudent to remember that Essere is used in cases where permanent aspects about objects and people are being talked. For example, it is better use Essere where one’s identity is being described or told. Similarly, when it comes to origins, profession, religion, date and time, physical characteristics, location, qualities, etc, Essere is to be used and not Stare.

Talking about Stare, it is more commonly used in idiomatic sentences and as auxiliary. It is also used to indicate exact locations and when one is talking in continuous tense. However, it is better memorizing these usages of the words as otherwise there is every chance of making a mistake for a non native.

Stare and Essere

• When greeting a person or asking about his health, it is Stare that is preferred over Essere.

• Even if enquiring about someone else’s health, you have to use Stare. Even the person responding to this enquiry will have to make use of Stare and not Essere.

• Essere is used in all cases where the verb is to be used as a helper (auxiliary verb).

• It is also used with past tenses of reflexive and intransitive verbs.

However, this is not all as there are also regional preferences in Italy where in some regions it is Stare that is preferred while there are also regions where Essere is used more often.