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Difference Between Abitare & Vivere

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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.

 

 

 

 

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