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Is there a difference when using insegnare, impartire, or fare to say that you are teaching a lesson? If not, which is more commonly used?

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Insegnare takes as its object the subject being taught, rather than the word lezione, as in Insegno il francese a Gianni. Impartire una lezione is quite formal (the original meaning of impartire being “to share (something) among several people”), while fare is on the colloquial side; a good middle course to say “to give a lecture” is tenere una lezione.

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When someone teaches something he/she is "teaching", so "sta insegnando". "Impartire" is very very formal, and when talking it is not used a lot. "Fare" a lesson, is instead informal, such as "the teacher is doing a lesson". I'm Italian!

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The most commonly used among the three, while talking, is Insegnare. For instance:

Insegno inglese all'università

which would be a good answer if somebody asks "what's your job?" or, if they know you are a teacher, "what do you teach?".

If you want to express the fact that the course is happening right now, in this period of time, with a continuity concept, the best verb would be Tenere. So it would sound something like this:

In questo periodo sto tenendo un corso di inglese all'università

or, for instance if somebody calls you during a class

Non posso rispondere ora, sto tenendo una lezione all'università

Impartire, as somebody else said, is unusual for verbal conversation, since it's archaic and very formal. Fare is very generic and my Italian teacher used to suggest we find more specific verbs, since it's always possible. To use often Fare is a symptom of a scarce vocabulary, so it's better to avoid it when you have a better and more specific alternative.

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  • "sto tenendo una lezione" ha connotati regionali. Non si direbbe al nord – Bruno9779 May 7 '14 at 16:29
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    Io sono di Milano e non ci vedo nulla di strano. Rispondendo al telefono dire: "Scusami, ma adesso non posso... sto tenendo una lezione di..." mi sembra italiano corretto, a prescindere dalla regione – clami219 May 8 '14 at 14:32

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