two words for "to live"?

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Setwale_Charm, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Many languages have two distinct words to convey the meaning of "to live" in English, "жить" in Russian, or żyć in Polish.
    One, like the German "wohnen", the French "habiter", the Italian "abitare", the Dutch "wonen", the Hungarian "lakikni", refers to residence.
    The other like "leben", "vivre", "vivere", "leven", "elni" refers to existence.
    However, the tendency as it appears to me is to increasingly use the latter even when talikng of living at some place.
    What is the situation in your language? Are there two distinct words for "to live" and to what extent are they mutually replaceable?

  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Portuguese is one of those languages.

    Morar = Habitar = "to live somewhere, to reside"

    Viver = "to live" in general, or also "to live somewhere, to reside"​
  3. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    Finland (North)
    Finnish also makes this distinction:

    = to live (residence)
    elää = to live (existence)

    My experience tells me there's a strict difference between these two, i.e. in Finnish they're not interchangeable, at least in the sense when discussing your place of residence. There may be some individual cases where the existence verb deals with location, but not often.
  4. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Indonesian makes a distinction:

    tinggal = to live (residence)
    hidup = to live (existence)

    Just like in Finnish, there is no confusion between the two, and they are not interchangeable.
  5. ukuca

    ukuca Senior Member

    Istanbul - Turkey
    Turkish - Turkey
    In Turkish, we say yaşamak to express the existence and oturmak (or in some cases kalmak) to express the residence. "oturmak" also means to "sit/sit down" and "kalmak" also means "to stay".
  6. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    The most common words in Chinese and Japanese distinguish the 2 notions (note that the main characters are the same too):

    (zhù) - to live (in a place)
    shēnghuó - to live, to exist; also "life"

    (すむ - sumu) - to live (in a place)
    きる (いきる - ikiru) - to live, to exist

    In Japanese 生活 (せいかつ - seikatsu), which is the same as the Chinese 生活 (shēnghuó) is only used as a noun, not a verb.
  7. alex.raf Member

    Zendeh-gi Kardan زندگی کردن = to live (residence)
    Zendeh Boodan زنده بودن = to live (existence)

    zendeh = live (n)
    zendeh-gi = life
  8. dudasd

    dudasd Senior Member


    živeti/živjeti - its primary meaning is: to live, to be alive, to exist

    živeti/živjeti - its secondary meaning is: to abide (somewhere), but often it's replaced with:

    - stanovati (to live at a specified place, e.g. on which address or in which appartment, like German "wohnen")
    - obitavati (to use to live somewhere, to inherit some area)
    - boraviti (to live at some place, but only temporarily)
    - sedeti (archaic and almost not used anymore; verbatim: to sit - like Turkish "oturmak")

    A note: the verb "živ(j)eti" may have a nuance of way of living as well: "Kako živiš?" ("How do you live?") means "How do you do?" or "How are you?" - or "Wie gehts?" in German.
  9. Well, this is my perception too: that the "residence" verb is occasionally (and as it seems to me, increasingly) substituted by the "existence" verb but not vice versa.
  10. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Dutch has wonen and leven. The latter is only marginally used for residence in certain contexts.
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Make that "often" for Portuguese. Not sure about "increasingly", though. Compared to what?
  12. I do not know. It is just my own inner feeling. I seem to stumble more and more frequently over: Ich lebe in Stuttgart, Je vis dans cette ville depuis le deluge, Ik zou graag in Gent leven. Il tuo italiano e tanto bello, hai vissuto in Italia? etc etc....
  13. jaxlarus

    jaxlarus Senior Member

    Limassol (Λέμε...SOS)
    Greek, Gibreiga (EL-CY)
    In Greek the verb to live (ζω) covers both contexts, but other verbs can be used as well:

    To live: ζω [There's another verb, βιώνω (< βίος = life), which means to fully experience something, to go through something, to live in full awareness]
    To reside: ζω, μένω (to stay), κατοικώ, κάθομαι (to sit), διαμένω.
  14. Woland

    Woland Senior Member

    In Romanian , ''to live'' and ''to residence'' have the same use.-''a trăi''
    Eu trăiesc (I live/i exist)
    Eu trăiesc în Franţa (I live in France)
    However,there is another word people use for the meaning of residence ,''a locui''(from the Hungarian ''lakni'',but it's not that popular)
  15. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Even if you're right concerning a trăi, I have to contradict you about a locui. There's a huge difference between these two verbs and the second one is used daily in contemporary Romanian (where did you get the "unpopular" notion?).

    Eu locuiesc în Franţa (I reside/live in France)
    Eu locuiesc în apartamentul ăsta (I reside/live in this apartement)
    Eu locuiesc în Paris (I reside/live in Paris)

    These two verbs are the Romanian equivalents of the French vivre (a trăi) & habiter (a locui) and the Italian vivere (a trăi) & abitare (a locui).

    But it doesn't stop there! In Romanian there is a myriad of words expressing "to live" and "to reside":

    a vieţui (to live)
    a fiinţa (to live, to exist)
    a domicilia (to reside, to have a residence)
    a şedea (to reside, to stay somewhere)'

    There are many more regional words, but that's another thread! :D Hope this helped Setwale_Charm with your initial question!

    All the best,

    :) robbie
  16. sabrinita85

    sabrinita85 Senior Member

    Rome, Italy

    = to live (residence)
    Vivere = to live (existence)
  17. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Actually, in Polish, "mieszkać" is used as the German "wohnen", the French "habiter", the Italian "abitare", etc in the meaning of "to reside", проживать (Russian).
  18. проживать seems to sound rather official to me, not generally used in conversations.
  19. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    I agree, I only explained that "mieszkać" is used in the meaning of "to reside" - also more official than "to live" but unambiguous;) In my opinion, Polish falls into the same category as German, French, Italian, etc., not English and Russian as per this topic, because this distinction between "exist" and "reside" is common in Polish. Ukrainian also uses a similar "мешкати" (to live, to reside) but it's not as common as "жити" (which is used fro both "to exist" and "to reside" as in Russian), IMHO. Correct me if I am wrong. The trend is perhaps to use more "мешкати", as Ukrainian is becoming increasingly de-russified.

    I misspelled "mieszkać" in my previous post, have corrected now.
  20. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    In Spanish we use vivir as in English for both existence and residence.
    There are some other verbs ,used in formal situations for the idea of residence, like habitar or residir .
  21. HistofEng Senior Member

    New York
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    Similar to the Romance languages:

    Haitian Creole (Kreyól):

    viv: existence
    abite: residence

    However, 'viv' can sometimes be used for residence. If I were speaking with a friend I hadn't spoken to in years, I would say:

    Ki kote w'ap viv kounye-la? (Where are you living now?)('abite' can also be used here)

    If, however, I had to meet up with a coworker at his/her home, I would say:

    Ki kote ou abite? (Where do you live?)('viv' sounds very awkward in this situation)

    Even in English, I think 'where are you living' sounds distinctly different from 'where do you live.'

    If I were forced to form an analysis, I would say that 'viv' (and the gerund 'living' for English) can be used in the first example because it is more akin to 'Where are you having your existence now' or 'where is the place of your existence'. On the other hand, 'abite' has more proximate connotations.

    Does that make any sense? Do any other languages work the same way?
  22. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    In Czech:
    (residence) bydlet (bydlím v Praze; bydlím v podnájmu) But in special cases = as existence(rarely): e.g. "Kde to žiješ?!"
    (existence) žít e.g. Jak si žiješ? (How do you do?)

    In Lithuanian:
    (doesn't distinguish: residence=existence) gyventi.
  23. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    I am not sure with the semantic demarcation in Chinese but Japanese has at least three separate concepts that correspond to the English live.
    生きる (ikiru) is a notion to be contrasted with death. It means biological life, even though, as the commonest word to mean "life," many other nuances are expressed.

    Life in sense of filling our time in this world with activities, thereby giving it a structure, requires another verb in Japanese; 暮らす (kurasu), which is used as in 日々の暮らし (hibi-no kurashi) or day-to-day life. It goes without saying that animals are rarely conceived as having life (暮らし) in this sense.
  24. OldAvatar Senior Member

    I'm sorry to disappoint you. But in Romanian...
    1. The verb a locui, locuire is popular enough and is used in spoken language as usual as a trăi. Even if the sense is similar, there are differences between those two verbs.
    2. the etymology can not be Hungarian. It may be the other way arround, I'm not sure about that, but I can assure that the etymology is the Latin locus (place in English).
  25. Woland

    Woland Senior Member


    It Seems that the Romanian Accademy has another opinion
    LOCUÍ, locuiesc, vb. IV. 1. Intranz. A-şi avea domiciliul undeva, a fi stabilit cu locuinţa undeva; a sta, a şedea undeva, a domicilia. 2.Tranz. (Înv.) A aşeza pe cineva într-un loc; a stabili, a coloniza. – Din magh. lakni (după loc).
  26. OldAvatar Senior Member


    I know it has. But there are a lot of dubious info which remained official from past dark ages of linguistic research. I'll dare to open a thread about that.
  27. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    This means that the verb was created from a Hungarian conception (even if this subject may be discussed), but the word in itself is derived from loc < Latin locus. This inevitably makes it a word created from Latin testimonials.

    I agree OldAvatar, this issue should be discussed in another forum because it gives birth to a very interesting question about many Romanian words with unknown etymologies.

    :) robbie
  28. Woland

    Woland Senior Member

    Thank you robbie and OldAvatar,my latin knowledge=O ,so I only believed in the D.E.X. explanation. You guys may be right,thanks again
  29. Nizo Senior Member

    In Esperanto:

    loĝi = to live, to reside (residence)
    vivi = to live (existence)

    While the two words are not generally considered to be interchangeable, I have seen vivi used to refer to residence. However, this seems to be more a holdover from the speaker’s/writer’s first language.
  30. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Thanks for the insight, Flaminius :)
  31. Lello4ever

    Lello4ever Senior Member

    Italia - Italiano
    In Italian vivere is used for both exist(experience) and live in a place.
  32. Abbassupreme

    Abbassupreme Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English, Persian
    Actually, a more verbatim translation of "Zendeh Budan(Zendeh Boodan)" is "to be alive", with zendeh translating to "alive" or "live" programming when it comes to Persian-language media.

    Also, another word for simply "living" (existence) is "zistan". "Zistan" translates to "to live", but apparently only the infinitive is used. I don't think I've ever seen it conjugated.
  33. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    In Serbian "živeti" means "to live" and "to reside".
  34. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    I will try to explain the usage in the standard (classical) Arabic, since no natives have posted, please correct me :) I am posting my learner's observations :)

    Arabic has quite a few verbs meaning "to live". I post 2 verbs in 2 forms, most Arabic verbs are usually introduced in these 2 forms to the learners.

    The most common for "reside" seems
    سكن sakan(a) (3rd person singular masculine of the past tense, also the dictionary form)
    يسكن yaskun(u) (3rd person singular masculine of the present tense)

    To exist or to be alive:
    عاش `aasha (also transliterated as 3aasha) (3rd person singular masculine of the past tense, also the dictionary form)
    يعيش ya`iish(u) (also transliterated as ya3iish(u)) (3rd person singular masculine of the present tense)

    There are verbs meaning to subsist (live on something), so there's quite a variety in Arabic. Besides there are colloquial Arabic forms. Standard Arabic is normally not used in everyday speech.

    --Please correct any mistakes and add nuances
  35. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    In Swedish, there's the same distinction as in many languages between att bo - reside - and att leva - to be alive, live. The only cases I can think of where you'd use att leva meaning that you live somewhere is when saying something like "hon levde hela sitt liv på orten", "she lived her whole life in [that] municipality".
  36. jana.bo99

    jana.bo99 Senior Member

    Cro, Slo

    habiter: stanovati

    vivir: ziveti


    habiter: stanovati

    vivir: zivjeti

    Croatians and Slovenians have many words: the same.
  37. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    Also: "stanovati", "obitavati" -> "to reside". But "živeti" is more common when explaining that someone lives somewhere.

    I live here. - Ja živim ovde.
    I live in a 5-bedroom flat. - Ja živim u petosobnom stanu.
  38. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Hungarian lakni wohnen élni leben

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