Let’s get one thing straight first off: sopportare is not to be confused with supportare.
The second verb means roughly the same as the English word it resembles: ‘to support’. But the first is for when you’re a lot less enthusiastic.
Hear how to pronounce sopportare:
The meaning of sopportare is related to supporting something, but in one specific sense: it means bearing a weight, like columns support the roof of a building.
Questi pilastri sopportano l’intera spinta della volta.
These pillars support the entire weight of the vault.
From there, the word takes on the figurative sense of bearing something. The implication is that it’s something difficult you have to ‘take’ or ‘endure’ – such as pain, or a big expense.
Sono stato io a sopportare il maggior danno.
I was the one who took the biggest loss.
È una donna che nella sua vita ha sopportato continue ingiustizie.
She’s a woman who has endured continual injustices throughout her life.
Saying you sopporti (‘put up with’) someone is very different, then, to saying you supporti (‘support’) them.
And if the feeling’s mutual, you can use the reflexive form of the verb (sopportarsi) to describe people putting up with each other.
I due coniugi si sopportano per amore dei figli.
The two spouses put up with each other for the sake of their children.
Of course, there are some things you just can’t take: that’s when you use sopportare in the negative, to say you ‘can’t stand’ or ‘can’t bear’ something (or someone).
Non sopporto i maleducati.
I can’t bear people with bad manners.
Non ti sopporto più!
I can’t stand you any more!
You might say such things are insopportabile: ‘intolerable’ or simply ‘insupportable’.
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