By- Claudia Quesito
The verb stare conveys several meanings and can sometimes be tricky because of its different uses. Here are a few rules to help you use it properly. Stare means “to stay, to remain” – as in Oggi sto a casa (Today I’m staying home) – and “to feel” – as in Sto benissimo! (I’m very well!). Moreover, stare is used to express an action in progress, as in Marco sta guardando un film (Marco is watching a movie).
The last two instances require extra attention since the English equivalents would require the verb “to be”. And remember that the progressive form is used in Italian only to emphasize that an event is happening right now. Italians normally use the present tense to describe an ongoing action: Mangio una mela (I’m eating an apple). The present progressive is only used to stress that something is happening right at the moment.
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Also, while in English you use to be + -ing to express something that is going to happen in the future, you cannot do that in Italian: to express “Tomorrow I am going to the swimming pool” you can use either the present (Domani vado in piscina) or the future tense (Domani andrò in piscina).
The verb stare doesn’t convey the meaning of being in one place, as the Spanish verb estar would, for instance. However, you will hear it used in this sense in certain parts of Southern Italy (like the Napoli area), long dominated by the Spaniards. While in standard Italian Mario sta a casa means “Mario stays home” (as opposed to Mario goes out), in Napoli no one would bat an eye if you say that just to express where Mario is at the moment.
If stare is preceded by ci, it means “to agree”, “to be available” (Ci sto! expresses “I’m in!” [referred to a plan or suggestion]) or “to fit” (Il letto non ci sta means “The bed doesn’t fit”). Finally, it’s worth mentioning the expression stare per + infinitive, which translated “to be about to”. Note the difference: Sto per mangiare la pasta means that you’re about to eat pasta, while Sto mangiando la pasta means that you have been enjoying that pasta already.