6 Ways to Say “I Need…” in Italian

Whether it’s directions to that cute shop you’ve been longing to explore or a hand with your broken rental car, knowing how to express your needs in Italian can truly save the day when you’re traveling around the country. 

In today’s article, we’re diving into the essential ways to say that you need something (or someone) in Italian. These phrases might seem pretty similar at first, but there are subtle nuances that distinguish them, making all the difference in communication. Armed with practical examples, you’ll learn how to use them properly, ensuring your conversations flow effortlessly and yield the results you desire!

Six ways to say I need in Italian

1. Ho bisogno di

When it comes to expressing a need in Italian, ho bisogno di is your go-to phrase, a must-have in your linguistic toolkit. Translated literally as I have a need of, this simple structure comprises three elements: the verb avere (to have), the noun bisogno (need), and the preposition di (of), which introduces the thing, person, or action needed. Specifically, ho bisogno di can be followed by either a noun or a verb in the infinitive form. So, mastering the conjugation of the verb avere is all it takes to confidently use this expression!


Note: for a more impersonal tone, Ho bisogno di can be substituted with Bisogna or C’è bisogno di, both conveying the meaning there’s a need for. For instance: Oggi bisogna fare la spesa, il frigorifero è vuoto. (Today, we need to go grocery shopping, the fridge is empty.)

Mother, I love you. Happy daughter embracing her mom, enjoying time together
Ho bisogno di te. = I need you.

2. Ho bisogno che

Ho bisogno che translates to I need that, with the conjunction che introducing a subordinate clause in the subjunctive mood, specifying what you need from others. While this form is more prevalent in written Italian, particularly in formal contexts, it’s not rare to hear it in spoken language as well. It usually translates as I need [someone] to… in English.


cheerful young woman brunette florist selling flowers in a flower shop taking money from client.
Ho bisogno che mi presti un po’ di soldi. = I need you to lend me some money.

3. Mi serve 

Another frequently used expression for saying I need in Italian is Mi serve. Translated literally, this phrase means something serves me and implies instrumental necessity. In other words, it indicates the need for a particular item to perform a specific action. Let’s take a look at the following example for clarity:

  • Mà, mi servono soldi per fare benzina al motorino. (Mum, I need money to put gas in my scooter): this indicates a specific instrumental need for money to buy gasoline for the scooter.
  • Mà, ho bisogno di soldi (Mum, I need money): in this case, you’re saying that you’re in a tight spot financially.

It’s important to note that in this expression, the item needed is the subject, because it’s the thing that enables you to do something. Consequently, the verb servire (to need) agrees with the item, rather than with the speaker.


African american friends trying on clothes and holding shirts on hangers to compare in shopping mall. Man asking woman for advice in choosing trendy apparel before buying
Mi serve una nuova camicia. = I need a new shirt.

4. Mi occorre

Mi occorre is very similar to Mi serve, although it’s probably not as widely used and is more common in formal contexts. It functions exactly the same way, with the verb occorrere (to need) agreeing with the thing you need, which serves as the subject. The only difference is that Mi occorre is typically only used with things, never with people.


Close-up of young latin woman talking on the phone outdoors in the street. Urban concept.
Mi occorre una stanza singola. = I need a single room.

5. Devo 

Devo is very commonly used in Italian to express the urgency and necessity to do something, with the meaning I need to. It’s always followed by another verb in the infinitive form.


The schoolgirl is tired at school, lying on a bench.
Devo dormire di più. = I need to sleep more.

6. Necessito di / Ho la necessità di 

Necessito di or Ho la necessità di are expressions used to say I need in written Italian, though they’re not as common in everyday conversation. They both denote a necessity, a prerequisite for something to happen.


Business man using mobile phone, smiling in his office.
Ho la necessità di parlare con Mario. = I need to speak to Mario.

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