"Stay" or "live"

This is a good example of the phrase “similar but not the same” 🙂 Both words mean: to be in a place. However, their usage is different.

stay (v.) = to be in a place for a short period of time

live (v.) = to be in a place permanently or for a much longer period

Therefore, if you intend to move to another location, and remain there for many years (or forever), then you use the word “live“.


  • I’ve lived in Melaka all my life.
  • I used to live there for 10 years, but now I live with my family here.
  • When my girlfriend goes to Penang, she will stay in a budget hotel.
  • We will be staying here only for a year before moving to a new house.

These two words appear to be too simple to most of us, yet it is the simplicity that causes confusion sometimes especially to people who don’t bother to know which is right, and which isn’t.


Posted on November 3, 2009, in Word Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. How about this??

    While waiting for my new house to be ready (which should be end of this year), we are currently staying at my in-laws’ house. Up to today, I have been living here for 4 years.

    • Hi Rose,

      Yes, the last statement is acceptable since the duration is rather long – 4 years. You’ve also avoided ambiguity by clarifying that you’re currently staying [temporarily] somewhere.

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