Italian Phrase of the Week: Ho fame! (I’m hungry!)

A very important phrase for all those who enjoy a hearty Italian meal is Ho fame! which in Italian means I’m hungry!

It is made up of two components: the first person conjugation of the verb avere (to have) and the noun fame which translates as famine or hunger.

Ho (I have) + fame (hunger)

IPA: /ɔ ˈfame/

In contrast to English, Italian often uses avere (to have) plus a noun instead of essere (to be) plus an adjective when describing feelings and sensations. Below are a few extremely common examples that follow the same pattern as ho fame:

  • Ho sete. (Literally: I have thirst.) = I am thirsty.
  • Ho sonno. (Literally: I have sleepiness.) = I am sleepy.
  • Ho caldo. (Literally: I have hotness.) = I am hot.
  • Ho freddo. (Literally: I have coldness.) = I am cold.
  • Ho paura. (Literally: I have fear.) = I am scared.
  • Ho fretta. (Literally: I have haste.) = I am in a hurry.

Some other more expressive ways of saying I’m hungry in Italian include:

  • Sto morendo di fame! = I’m dying of hunger!
  • Che fame che ho! = How hungry I am!
  • Sono affamato! = I’m starving!
  • Ho una fame da lupi! = I have the hunger of wolves!
  • Non ci vedo più dalla fame! = I can’t see from hunger!

Something many Italian children say along with or in the place of ho fame is voglio la pappa. This literally means I want the food, with pappa being the word children and their parents tend to use for food or meals.

Ho fame, mamma. Voglio la pappa!

I’m hungry, mommy! I want the food!


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