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Stare as Opposed to Essere

A subscriber has asked a good question: why Adriano used stare instead of essere in caption 6 in Adriano: Adriano e Anita.

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In fact, knowing when to use stare isn’t always easy because like essere, it mostly translates as “to be.” Sometimes the choice is clear cut, and other times it’s a matter of taste or regional usage.

Sicuramente vi starete chiedendo chi è questa bella ragazza che sta alla mia destra.

Surely you are wondering, who is this beautiful girl who is on my right.

Captions 5-6, Adriano - Adriano e Anita

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Perhaps the best answer, in this case, is that stare has more to do with a position in a place or situation than essere, which is generic “to be,” and so using stare is a bit more specific. Adriano is not going so far as to say she is sitting or standing on his right, but she is there, placed at his right, in a position, so stare works.

Adriano also happens to be from Sicily. In southern Italy, people use the verb stare to replace essere in many cases.

 

There can be multiple reasons for using stare instead of essere, and they can be interchangeable in some cases, but there are some situations in which stare works and essere doesn’t.

Come stai (how are you)? We’re talking about a condition here.

"Come stai?" rispondo "sto bene!"

"How are you?" I answer, "I'm fine."

Caption 37, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Chiedere "Come va?"

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On the other hand, in the (unlikely) case where I ask you come sei? (using essere), I am asking how tall, how fat or thin you are, or how good looking you are, but not how you are feeling, or how you are.

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For more on stare, have a look at the WordReference entry for stare and see this Yabla lesson. In addition, it’s always handy to do a Yabla search of stare or its conjugations and look at the examples to get even more of a sense of when to use it. 

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