Difference between FERMARE and SMETTERE in Italian!

Fermare vs Smettere! Many people might think that these verbs are synonyms, but in reality these two verbs have quite different meanings and uses… If you want to learn more about it, watch this awesome lesson with Rocco!

FERMARE and SMETTERE: meaning and use!

FERMARE and SMETTERE are both associated with the idea of STOP, an English word that became part of the vocabulary of many languages. However, they have a little but fundamental difference that often causes confusion among foreigners.

FERMARE means physically blocking something or someone in motion.

For Example:

La polizia ha fermato la macchina che aveva commesso l’infrazione (The police stopped the car that committed the infraction).

This means that the police, with the signaling disk or high beams, stopped the car in motion because it had run a red light or it had exceeded the speed limit or something like that…).

Let’s see another example:

L’attore è stato fermato da un gruppo di fan che volevano farsi un selfie con lui. (The actor has been stopped by a group of fans who wanted to take a selfie with him).

Review Italian passive voice!

Be careful! In these sentences a subject interrupts the motion of another one, but it is possible that the interruption of the movement is caused by the same subject. In this case the verb is reflexive: FERMARSI 

For Example:

Il sindaco si ferma sempre per parlare con i suoi concittadini. (The major always stops to talk to his fellow citizens).


Ho chiamato il taxi ma non si è fermato(I called the cab but it didn’t stop)

SMETTERE, instead, means interrupting, suspending an activity, permanently (forever) or temporarily (for some time). In this case, there isn’t any “interrupted motion”, but we express the idea of not doing something we had done before for a certain period of time. SMETTERE is, therefore, an interruption that is up to the subject and not other factors or people. The structure is:

SMETTERE DI + verb in the infinitive tense

For Example:

Devo smettere di andare a lavoro a piedi, ormai sta arrivando l’inverno. (I have to stop going to work on foot, winter is coming…)


Marco ha smesso di fumare e ora si sente meglio (Mark stopped smoking and now he is feeling better

If you have no more doubts on these verbs, check out our lesson on other two verbs easily mistaken: ANDARE and VENIRE

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

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