Difference between smettere and fermare

What’s the difference between smettere and fermare in Italian, two very common verbs that are often confused by language learners? Are there any situations where you must use one or the other? Are they interchangeable at all?

In this lesson, we will look at how to use these words with many audio recordings and example sentences. Read on to learn everything you need to know!

difference between smettere and fermare in italian - let's start - iniziamo - athlete woman running

Smettere and fermare in Italian

Both smettere and fermare translate into English as “to stop”, so using them correctly in Italian can be tricky.

The main difference between smettere and fermare in Italian is that…

  • smettere is strictly an intransitive verb
  • fermare is also a transitive verb

Still confused? Let’s delve deeper into the do’s and don’t’s of each verb.

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!


How do you use smettere in Italian?

Smettere is an intransitive verb that translates “to stop” meaning “to cease”.

Smettere
To stop, to cease

man signing to stop

Since it’s an intransitive verb, it cannot be followed by a direct object. You will only ever see it coupled with infinitive verbs to translate the English expression “to stop doing something”.

To translate a sentence such as “he stops laughing”, however, you will need a preposition between smettere and the verb that describes the activity being stopped. In our case, the preposition di.

The sentence structure will then be smettere + DI + infinitive verb.

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.

For example, you could say…

Paola smette di ridere.
Paola stops laughing.

laughing mean princess

Mio zio vorrebbe smettere di fumare.
My uncle would like to stop smoking.

Mio nonno non ha mai smesso di lavorare.
My grandpa never stopped working.

Il bambino smise di camminare.
The kid stopped walking.

A very popular expression is smettila, which translates “stop it” in Italian.

Smettila, mi fai male!
Stop it, you’re hurting me!

girl biting another girl on her arm

How do you use fermare in Italian?

Fermare can be either a transitive or intransitive verb. It translates “to stop” meaning “to stop something or oneself from moving”.

Fermare
To stop

When fermare is used as a transitive verb, it simply precedes the object which is being stopped. Meaning, there’s something that stops something else. It’s a physical act.

For example, you could say…

Il turista ferma il taxi con un cenno della mano.
The tourist stops the cab with a wave of his hand.

tourist getting on a taxi

Qualcuno fermi quel cane!
Somebody stop that dog!

Giuseppe ferma l’auto e soccorre il pedone.
Joseph stops the car and rescues the pedestrian.

When fermare is used as an intransitive verb, meaning “to stop one’s movement”, is only ever used in its reflexive form fermarsi. Intransitive verbs are never used with a direct object.

Fermarsi
To stop one’s movement

For example, you could say…

La macchina si fermò sul ciglio della strada.
The car stopped on the side of the road.

Mi sono fermato al supermercato a comprare un po’ di caramelle.
I stopped at the supermarket to buy some candy.

L’uomo si ferma e ascolta.
The man stops and listens.

a man listening

If you said l’uomo ferma, you would create a partial sentence where the direct object is missing. Be careful!

L’uomo ferma… la macchina, la trottola, il motore.
The man stops… the car, the spinning top, the engine.

L’uomo si ferma.
The man stops.


What next?

Now that you’ve seen how to use smettere and fermare in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

❤️ If you liked this lesson on how to use smettere and fermare in Italian, consider sharing it with your social media friends who are also studying Italian.

Leave a Comment