Italian Language Blog

Idiomatic Expressions With The Italian Verb Avere Posted by on Mar 11, 2016 in Grammar

Avere means ‘to have’ … simple, right?

Well, unfortunately not! You’ll frequently find the Italian verb for ‘to have’ (avere) used where we would use ‘to be’ (essere) in English, e.g. ‘I am thirsty’ translates as ho sete’ (literally: I have thirst), and ‘they are right’ translates as hanno ragione’ (literally: they have reason)
Here’s a list of the most common idiomatic expressions with avere and some examples of their usage. N.B. you’ll often find avere shortened to aver before a consonant, as seen in the examples below.


1. avere … anni = to be … old: Lucia ha quattro anni = Lucia is four years old

2. aver bisogno (di) = to need: Serena ha bisogno di una mano = Serena needs a hand

3. aver caldo = to be (feel) warm/hot: mi tolgo questo maglione, ho troppo caldo = I’m going to take off this sweater, I’m too warm

4. aver freddo = to be (feel) cold: se hai freddo possiamo accendere la stufa = if you’re cold we can light the stove

5. aver sonno = to be (feel) sleepy = ora ho sonno, vado a letto presto = I’m tired now, I’m going to bed early

6. aver fretta = to be in a hurry: Su, Luca, sbrigati che ho fretta! = come on Luca, get a move on, I’m in a hurry!

7. avere intenzione (di) = to intend: = Marco aveva intenzione di andare al mare oggi = Marco intended to go to the sea today

8. aver paura (di) = to be afraid: avevamo paura di perderci = we were afraid of getting lost

9. aver vergogna = to be (feel) ashamed: oddio, che scemo che sono, ho proprio vergogna: Oh God, what an idiot I am, I feel really ashamed


10. aver fame = to be hungry: avete fame ragazzi? Dai, andiamo in pizzeria = are you hungry guys? come on, let’s go to the pizzeria

11. aver sete = to be thirsty: mi dai un bicchiere d’acqua per favore, ho proprio sete = could you give me a glass of water please, I’m really thirsty

12. aver ragione = to be right: sì, sono completamente d’accordo, hai ragione tu! = yes, I completely agree, you’re right!

13. aver torto  = to be wrong: avevi torto a non accettare il suo invito = you were wrong not to accept his invitation

14. aver voglia di = to feel like doing: che bella giornata, hai voglia di fare una passeggiata con me? = what a lovely day, do you feel like going for a walk with me?

Next time I’ll be taking a look at idiomatic expressions with the verb farece ne sono tante! (there are loads of them!)

A presto!

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  1. Antoinette:

    How would one say ” love it!” Lo voglio bene?

    • Geoff:

      @Antoinette Ciao Antoinette, you asked: “how would you say ‘love it’?” Well it depends on the context. You’ll have to give me some examples of what the expression ‘love it’ is a reply to so that I can give you a few options. But it’s definitely not ‘lo voglio bene’.

      A presto, Geoff

  2. JOSEPH:

    exc ellent thank you

  3. Gianna Shaw:

    Molto utile per gli studenti che stanno imparando l’italiano. Grazie

  4. Peni Schwartz:

    How can I donate to your website?

    • Geoff:

      @Peni Schwartz I’ve already replied to your question Peni, check your previous comment.

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