AFFITTARE, NOLEGGIARE and PRENDERE IN PRESTITO are three verbs that lead many foreigners to confusion because they have very similar meanings, but they’re used in different contexts. Let’s find them out together!

Differences in meaning and use between AFFITTARE, NOLEGGIARE, PRENDERE IN PRESTITO and LEASING

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AFFITTARE: meaning and use

AFFITTARE means to grant the right to use pieces of real estate (such as houses, football fields, hotels, lands…) after the payment of a certain amount of money.

For example:

Carla ha affittato la sua casa a una giovane coppia. (Carla leased her house to a young couple)

Originally, the term AFFITTARE only referred to the act of leasing a piece of real estate, but today, especially in the everyday language, it is used even with reference to the act of renting.

For example:

Quando sono andata a Berlino ho affittato un appartamento in centro. (When I went to Berlin, I rent a flat in the city center)

N.B. The problem is that, when the context doesn’t make it clear, sentences such as “ho affittato una casa” can lead to misunderstandings, for this reason you can use the two expressions Dare in affitto (to rent) and Prendere in affitto (to lease) in order to make things clearer.

NOLEGGIARE: meaning and use

NOLEGGIARE is very similar to “affittare”, since it means to grant the use of something to someone for a certain period of time after the payment of a certain amount, but this is usually referred to movable assets, especially means of transport, such as cars, bikes, motorbikes, boats… or other objects such as DVDs, CDs, clothes and so on.

For example:

Quel negozio noleggia DVD. (That shop rents out DVDs)

It also means “paying a certain amount of money to use something for a certain period of time”, which is exactly the opposite meaning.

For example:

A Carnevale ho noleggiato un abito da Cenerentola! (At Carnival I rent a Cinderella dress)

N.B. In this case as well, in order to avoid mistakes, you can use expression Dare a noleggio and Prendere a noleggio.


These two expressions have the same meaning as  NOLEGGIARE, but “noleggiare” implies the payment of a certain amount of money in order to be able to use the good and sometimes also a real contract. Instead when talking about “prendere” or “dare in prestito”, you usually don’t pay anything.

For example:

I libri della biblioteca vengono dati in prestito. Oppure la sorella minore prende sempre in prestito i vestiti dalla sorella maggiore. (The books of a library are lent. Or the youngest sister always borrows the older sister’s clothes).

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PRESTITO: meaning and use

But PRESTITO also means something else! For example, CHIEDERE UN PRESTITO is usually referred to urge – usually a bank – a certain amount of money, with the commitment to give it back within a specified time, with interests.

For example:

Per comprare il nuovo locale, Paolo ha dovuto chiedere un prestito alla banca. (In order to buy a new place, Paolo had to ask for a loan to the bank)

LEASING: meaning and use

Leasing is a contract with which someone (grantor) gives to someone else (user) the right to use a good for a certain amount of time, after a payment of a certain amount of money, with the possibility, at the end of the planned duration, to buy it by deposing the difference.

Learn also the difference between VEDERE, GUARDARE, OSSERVARE, SCRUTARE and FISSARE!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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