Sentire, provare and sentirsi

The verbs provare and sentirsi both mean “to feel”, in the sense of experiencing emotions. The verbs sentire (and sometimes sentirsi) refer to “feeling” or “perceiving” something physical.

Anna prova tristezza.

Anna feels sadness.

Anna sente caldo.

Anna feels warm.

Anna si sente triste.

Anna feels sad.

We use provare provare, presente and sentire sentire, presente before a noun (with or without an article such as il, la, un, etc.).

Provo allegria quando esco con i miei amici.

I feel joy when I go out with my friends.

Ciro sente la stanchezza della giornata. 

Ciro feels the tiredness of the day.

We use sentire sentire, presente before a statement that starts with che (that).

Senti che l’acqua è più fredda di prima?

Do you feel like the water is colder than before?

We use sentirsi sentirsi, presente before:

  • an adjective;

Mi sento allegro quando esco con i miei amici.

I feel happy when I go out with my friends.

Francesco si sente accaldato quando prende il sole. 

Francesco feels warmed when he sunbathes.

  • a statement that starts with come (like).

Mi sento come un re dopo una bella doccia calda. 

I feel like a king after a nice hot shower.


  • We use sentire when talking about the following senses: l'udito (hearing), l'odorato (smell) and il gusto (taste). In English we often use a more specific verb such as “hear”, “smell” or “taste”.

Sento molti rumori in questa via. 

I hear a lot of noise on this street.

Sento un buon profumo

I smell a nice smell.

Sento un sapore amaro. 

I can taste a bitter flavor.

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