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Which verb is usually used to say: "I usually wear casual clothes."? I've learnt 4: "indossare", "vestire", "portare" e "mettere", and what are the differences among them?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

In the specific case of your sentence, I'd probably simply translate «In genere mi vesto casual» (yes, casual is used in Italian too).

As for the four verbs:

  • “indossare” is more formal: you'd hardly use it in everyday speech;
  • “vestire” is mostly used in the reflexive form (“mi vesto tutto di verde”); alternatively you can use it transitively with a person as its object (“vestire gli ignudi”) or, rarely, with an item (“vesti la giubba”);
  • “portare” and “mettere” are even more colloquial and, unlike “vestirsi”, need an object if used in this sense, since they have several uses radiating form the basic meanings of “to bring” and “to put”. The latter is mostly used reflexively in such sentences as “mettiti il pigiama” or “mi metto in giacca e cravatta” (i.e., I wear a formal suit): notice the slightly different constructions.
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Ecxellent explanation. –  Vic Apr 2 '14 at 9:20
Vesto Armani is perfectly fine, and it doesn't mean I am dressing somebody whose name is Armani. :-) –  kiamlaluno Apr 22 '14 at 11:43

I'd add an example to clarify the different uses of mettere and portare:

"Non porto occhiali" (notice the absence of the article "gli" before occhiali) means "I don't wear eyeglasses" as an 'absolute' statement, because you have a great sight or whatever.

"Non porto gli occhiali" can either mean what I said previosly or "I don't bring the eyeglasses", meaning you don't phisically bring them with you.

"Non metto gli occhiali" means "I don't put the eyeglasses on". Generally speaking, when it comes to mettere used it this kind of context, you can always translate it with put on.

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As a native of both languages, the best way to describe their usages would be as such:

Indossare - to wear (formal, for writing) Eg. In formal situations, Romans wore togas.

Vestirsi - to wear Eg. I like to wear clothes that are environmentally friendly (broad).

Portare - to wear I wear sunnies even when it's cloudy (informal).

Mettersi - to put on It's so bright today, I'm gonna chuck on my sunnies (informal).

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Thanks for your answer! Since this is a site about Italian, it might be more useful if the examples were in Italian («I romani indossavano la toga» etc.). (And it is portare, not portarsi.) –  DaG Feb 14 at 9:47

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