Today I would like to explain the difference between the Italian verbs “abitare” and “vivere”.
I have noticed these verbs generate confusion in my students because it is true that sometimes they can be interchangable, and that is why a complete beginner student can learn the phrase “abito a Londra” and “vivo a Londra”. But at the same time, there is a difference of nuance between the two.
Let’s try to explain why:
“Abitare” is living, inhabit. It has mainly to do with living in a house or in a place where your interests (job, friends, etc) are located, and interact with the place – living the place, transforming the place, like you do with a house.
“Vivere“, on the contrary, can be living in a city, that is true (and that is what creates confusion), but it goes beyond “abitare” and also implies existing, living a life (as opposite to morire, to die), an experience.
As a consequence, it is correct to say:
– Vivo un’esperienza bellissima;
– Vivo una vita piena;
– Abito a Roma; Vivo a Roma.
But it is normally a bit incorrect to say:
– Abito in un hotel;
– Abito in una casa di riposo.