The difference between FERMARE and SMETTERE
Misusing or swapping the verbs
Instead, Italians have two different verbs to indicate the action of stopping. One verb is fermare and the other one is smettere. How different are they? Well, they are used with a different meaning and this depends on the nature of the action they are describing.
Let’s have a look at their usage:
WHEN TO USE FERMARE
Fermare is the action of stopping something or someone.
We can also say that the verb fermare simply describes a movement that is physically stopped by an intervention from outside.
fermato quella ragazza chemi piacevatanto per chiederleil numero – I stopped that girl that I liked so much to ask for her phone number
fermatola macchina– I stopped the car
As you might have noticed, when the action described by the verb is transitive (meaning the verb is followed by a direct or indirect object like la
- L’autobus si è
– the bus stopped fermato
sono al bar perché fermato i c’erano amici – I stopped by the bar because some friends of mine were there miei
WHEN TO USE SMETTERE
Smettere means stopping doing something and does not involve an idea of movement.
In short, it has the meaning of ceasing or quitting and is always followed by the preposition di and an infinitive verb.
Smettere can never be followed by a noun (
ho smesso di lavoro)
s di mettere – I’d like to quit smoking fumare
di smesso per lavorare dedicarmi mia alla – I stopped working to spend more time with my family famiglia
Attenzione! Smettere has an irregular past tense: ho smesso, hai smesso, etc…