Italian verb stare lesson

Italian Verb Stare Lesson: Grammar & Conjugation



As an irregular Italian verb, “stare” can be tricky for beginners to master, yet it unlocks the ability to discuss temporary states, actions in progress, and impending events. Understanding exactly when and how to apply “stare” instead of similar verbs like “essere” is critical to sounding natural.

This comprehensive guide to “stare” breaks down step-by-step how to conjugate across tenses, use in sentences, and compare to other verbs. After reading this article, you’ll walk away with clarity on the Italian verb stare and be able to describe feelings, orders, positions, relationships and more.

Italian Verb Stare Overview

Stare Italian Meaning

Stare has multiple meanings in Italian – including to stay, to be, and to live.

When followed by the preposition per it means to be about to.


Sto per pranzare. (I am about to have lunch)

We’ll look at all the other meanings when we discuss how to use stare, later in this article.

Stare Italian Pronunciation

Listen to me pronounce stare and the conjugation of the present tense.

Italian stare pronunciation

Italian VerbItalian SpellingPronunciation (for an English speaker)
Staresta-reSTAH-reh (with rolled “r”)
Italian verb stare spelling

Italian verb stare example 1

Stare Auxiliary

Stare is an irregular verb, meaning it doesn’t follow the rules when you conjugate it. 

It’s also an intransitive verb because it doesn’t answer the questions who? and what? For this reason, it takes the auxiliary essere.

Here’s the rule:
If the action verb is transitive or can answer the question what? you need to use avere as the auxiliary.

When a verb can’t answer those questions, it’s called intransitive, and it takes the auxiliary essere. Reflexive verbs always take the auxiliary essere in Italian. Read about them here.

Francesco e’ stato male.(Francesco has been sick).
The present tense of that would be Francesco sta male. 

Italian Verb Stare Conjugation For Beginners

Present Tense (Presente)

io sto
tu stai
lui sta
noi stiamo
voi state
loro stanno

Translation: I am (stay/feel), you are (stay/feel), he/she/it is (stay/feel), we are (stay/feel), you are (stay/feel), they are (stay/feel).

Past Tense (Imperfetto)

io stavo
tu stavi
lui stava
noi stavamo
voi stavate
loro stavano

Translation: I was (stayed/felt), you were (stayed/felt), he was (stayed/felt), we were (stayed/felt), you were (stayed/felt), they were (stayed/felt).

Past Tense (Passato Prossimo)

io sono stato
tu sei stato
lui è stato
noi siamo stati
voi siete stati
loro sono stati

Translation: I have stayed (been/felt), you have stayed (been/felt), she has stayed (been/felt), we have stayed (been/felt, you have stayed (been/felt), they have stayed (been/felt).

Future (Futuro Semplice)

io starò
tu starai
lui starà
noi staremo
voi starete
loro staranno

Translation: I will feel (be, stay), you will feel (be, stay), it will feel (be, stay), we will feel (be, stay), you will feel (be, stay), they will feel (be, stay).

Past Participle (Participio Passato)

Stato (been)

Infinitive (Infinito Presente)

Essere (to be)

When To Use Stare In Italian

Here are the main uses and meanings of stare in Italian.

  1. It means to stay or to remain

Stasera stiamo a casa. (Tonight we’ll remain at home.)

Oggi sto a scuola fino alle 19:00. (Today, I’ll remain at school till 7pm.)

  1. Speak or ask about one’s health.

Come stai? (How are you?)

Sto bene, grazie. (I am well, thanks.)

  1. To give an order.

Stai fermo, per favore. (Stay still, please)

  1. To describe one’s position.

Stare seduto – to be sitting

Stare all’impiedi – to be standing 

Stare sdraiato – to be lying down

Stare composto – to stay composed

Stare con le braccia conserte – to stay with folded arms

Stare in ginocchio – to be kneeling

Italian verb stare example 2
  1. To be with someone.

Sto con Giulia. – (I am in a relationship with Giulia)

  1. To indicate location or residence.

Il mio ufficio sta in centro. (My office is in the center of town.)

Francesca sta in periferia. (Francesca lives in the outskirts.)

  1. To refer to price.

La benzina sta quasi a due euro al litro. (The fuel is nearly two euros per litre.)

  1. Stare also acts as an auxiliary.

When used with the gerund of another verb to indicate an action that’s happening, stare acts as an auxiliary.

Stavo dormendo. (I was sleeping.)

Stare Italian Sayings

Stare is also used in many popular Italian expressions. I am listing five common ones for you to learn.

  1. Lascia stare – let it be

It’s used to tell someone to stop bothering with something, to let go of an issue, or to not pursue a matter further.

  1. Stare sulle tue

It’s usually used to tell someone that he is too reserved. Stai sempre sulle tue (you are always so reserved, you never open up or let go).

  1. Stare allo scherzo – participate in the joke

It’s usually used to tell someone they never take a joke. Non stai mai allo scherzo.

  1. Stare sulle spine – to be waiting in thorns

Used to refer to the state of being when you are waiting to know something or waiting in anticipation of something to happen.

  1. Stare con le mani in mano

It’s used to refer to someone who is doing nothing productive. Dai aiutaci, non stare con le mani in mano. (Come on, help us, don’t just do nothing).

Stare Italian Examples

Let’s look at a few example sentences, including different tenses and moods of the verb stare and a few expressions.

  1. Non sta bene interferire negli affari altrui. (It’s not good to meddle in other people’s business.)
  2. Mio nonno sta sul divano a leggere il giornale tutte le mattine. (My grandfather sits on the couch reading the newspaper every morning.)
  3. Se stavi più attento, non avresti sbagliato. (If you were more attentive, you wouldn’t have made a mistake.)
  4. Non voglio stare in casa tutto il giorno. (I don’t want to stay home all day.)
  5. Stavo per partire quando è arrivata la telefonata. (I was about to leave when the phone call came.)
  6. Lascialo stare, non ne vale la pena. (Let it go, it’s not worth it.)
  7. Stai tranquillo, tutto andrà bene. (Stay calm, everything will be okay.)
  8. Stavano seduti al tavolo a discutere della nuova strategia. (They were sitting at the table discussing the new strategy.)
  9. Se stessi al tuo posto, farei la stessa cosa. (If I were in your shoes, I would do the same thing.)
  10. Oggi non sta per niente bene, è meglio che stia a casa a riposarsi. (Today he’s not feeling well at all, it’s better for him to stay home and rest.)

essere vs stare example

Stare Vs Essere

In my lesson on the verb essere, I explained how easy it is for these two to be confused and why that’s so. In summary, these verbs can sometimes be used interchangeably.

On top of that, all the compound tenses are conjugated the same because they both take the auxiliary essere and their past participle is stato.

So how do you know which one to use?

Here are a few tips to help you get these two verbs right.

First of all, learn more about the verb essere. That will make you more confident with using the latter and better able to understand when you should use stare.

Secondly, learn the correct uses for each one. 

Essere can be used to imply existence (I am alive – sono vivo), location (I am at the bank – sono alla banca), state (I have a cold – sono raffreddato), a quality or characteristic (the book is beautiful – il libro e’ bello).

Stare can be used to mean live (I live in Milan – Io sto a Milano), describe a current action (I am eating – sto mangiando), or position (I am standing – sto all’impiedi).

Thirdly, learn when to use them interchangeably. You normally can use both essere and stare when you are talking about your location.

Example 1:
Sono a casa. (I am at home)
Sto a casa. (I am at home, or I stay at home)

Keep in mind that the two examples above have different nuances, as per the translation above.

Example 2:
Dove e’ il bimbo? (Where is the kid?)
Dove sta il bimbo? ((Where is the kid?)

Finally, you can do as I do to make things easier. For me, this is a personal language preference.  I always use essere, except when I am talking about an action (sto mangiando), being sick (sto male), and saying about to (sto per partire). In those three cases I use stare.

Full Stare Conjugation

Save this article and come back when you need to revise the verb stare conjugation. My tip is to learn at your own pace, without rushing and with lots of practicing in between.

Italian verb stare conjugation chart

Italian Stare Quiz

Practice your knowledge of the verb stare with these fill-in the blanks exercises. Try not to look at the chart the first time, so you can really test yourself.

  1. Presente: Io ___________ bene oggi. (I feel well today.)
  2. Imperfetto: Tu ___________ sempre con i tuoi amici quando eravamo bambini. (You used to always hang out with your friends when we were kids.)
  3. Passato Prossimo: Maria non ___________ a casa ieri sera. (Maria didn’t stay at home last night.)
  4. Futuro Semplice: Voi ___________ in spiaggia domani? (Will you stay at the beach tomorrow?)
  5. Congiuntivo Presente: Speriamo che io ___________ tranquillo durante l’esame. (May I stay calm during the exam.)
  6. Condizionale Presente: Loro ___________ con te se tu fossi gentile. (They would stay with you if you were kind.)

{Answers: sto, stavi, stava, starete, stia, starebbero.}

Final Thoughts On Stare

Now you know when to use “stare” in Italian. Review the lessons and quiz often to remember. Practice speaking about temporary states and actions happening now using “stare.” Listen to native speakers use it in real life.

Keep building your Italian speaking skills with these other verb lessons:

Verb Essere
Verb Avere
Reflexive Verbs
Italian Verbs Ending in Are


What does the verb stare mean in Italian?

Stare means “to stay”, “to be”, or “to live” in Italian.

What is the Italian stare gerund?

The gerund of stare is stando. For example, “Stando qui, posso riposarmi” (Staying here, I can rest).

What is the subjunctive of stare in Italian?

Some examples of stare in the present subjunctive are: che io stia, che tu stia, che lui/lei stia.

How do you use stare and Essere in Italian?

“Stare” refers more to location or temporary state, while “essere” refers to permanent characteristics. But they can sometimes be used interchangeably.

How do you conjugate the verb stare in Italian?

Stare is an irregular verb. The six forms are: sto, stai, sta, stiamo, state, stanno.

What is the past participle of stare in Italian?

The past participle of stare is stato/a, the same as for the verb “essere”. For example, “Sono stato a Roma” or “Ero stato male”.

What is the subjunctive imperfect of stare in Italian?

The six forms of the imperfect subjunctive of stare are: che io stessi, che tu stessi, che lui/lei stesse.

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