One of my students recently asked me the difference between ‘lasciare’ and ‘uscire’ as when she looked them up in the dictionary, they both said ‘to leave’. I’m sure she’s not the only person who’s pondered the differences between these two verbs, so let’s have a look at them.
Uscire means ‘to leave’, in the sense of going out of somewhere. It’s the opposite of ‘entrare’ (to go in / to enter). If you leave your house, a room or a building you would use ‘uscire’. The Italian word for ‘exit’ comes from this verb: ‘uscita’.
Esco di casa adesso – I’m leaving home now (in the sense of going out) / I’m going out of my house now
Usciamo dal ristorante – We’re leaving the restaurant / We’re coming out of the restaurant / We’re going out of the restaurant
Sei già uscita dal lavoro? Have you already left work? / Have you already come out of work?
‘Uscire’ can also mean ‘to hang out’ or ‘to socialise’. For example, ‘esci stasera’ would mean are you coming out tonight / are you hanging out tonight?
You can also use this verb to talk about dating or going out with someone romantically.
Vuoi uscire con me domani sera? – Do you want to go out with me tomorrow evening?
‘Lasciare’ on the other hand, means leaving something or someone. You would use this for items you have either forgotten or left behind on purpose.
Ho lasciato le chiavi a casa – I left the keys at home
Ha lasciato il cellullare al lavoro – She left her phone at work
Lasciamo il libro a scuola – We leave the book at school
Hai lasciato il portofoglio a casa mia? Did you leave your purse / wallet at my house?
Hanno lasciato il lavoro – They left their job
Hai lasciato la mancia? – Did you leave a tip?
You can use ‘lasciare’ to talk about leaving a place, for example:
Quando hai lasciato casa? - When did you leave home? (This means definitively, so when did you leave home to go to university or when did you leave home and move abroad for example)
Dobbiamo lasciare la stanza entro le 11 – We have to leave the room by 11am (this could be used to talk about checking out and leaving a hotel room)
Ho dovuto lasciare l’appartamento in affitto – I had to leave my rented apartment / I had to move out of my rented apartment
You can also use ‘lasciare’ to describe when two people break up, split up or leave each other:
Debora e Antonio si sono lasciati l’anno scorso - Debora e Antonio split up last year / Debora e Antonio broke up last year
Lei lascia il fidanzato – She’s leaving her boyfriend / she’s breaking up with her boyfriend