Italian: Difference between essere and stare

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By aaron

Essere and stare both mean "to be", but they are used in different situations.

Use essere to express the existence or essence of someone or something. The condition can be either temporary or permanent.

Maria è bella - Maria is beautiful.
Lui è mio fratello - He is my brother.
Il libro è verde - The book is green.

These are all sentences that describe physical characteristics of something or someone.

Use stare when you want to express a temporary physical or psychological condition of someone.

Come stai? - How are you?
Sto bene! - I am well!

Stare is also used to express resting or remaining in some condition for a period of time.

Stanno in silenzio e ascoltano il mare. - The are silent and listen to the sea. (They rest in that condition for a length of time).
Sta' zitto! - Stay quiet!


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