How Old Are You_ How to Express Age (Or Other States of Being) in Italian

Thu, 07/02/2020 - 05:58
girl in Vatican

Expressing a state of being is one of the most important and fundamental uses of language. How you are feeling in a specific moment (hungry, cold, sad) and general facts about your person (your age or height) are key to understanding others and making yourself understood. Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or getting to know them better, you’ll have to know how to express a state of being.

In Italian, two different auxiliary verbs are used to express states of being: avere (to have) and essere (to be). Though they roughly follow the grammar rules for the use of have and be in English, there are a few important exceptions. Here’s a handy overview for expressing a state of being or describing yourself or others in Italian:

Introductions

Essere
To indicate someone’s name, nationality, and profession:
Io sono Franca e sono Italiana. Sono un medico. (My name is Franca and I’m Italian. I’m a doctor.)

Avere
To indicate someone’s age:
Quanti anni hai? Ho 28 anni. (How old are you? I’m 28 years old.)

Descriptions

Essere
Used in front of descriptive adjectives:
Lei è alta. (She is tall.)
Noi siamo stanchi. (We are tired.)
Io sono bionda. (I am blond.)

Avere
Used in front of descriptive nouns:
Lui ha capelli lunghi. (He has long hair.)
Noi abbiamo gli occhi verdi. (We have green eyes.)
Io ho i piedi piatti. (I have flat feet.)

Expressing Feelings or Sensations

Essere
Used to express emotions:
Sono felice di rivederti! (I’m happy to see you again!)
Lei è soddisfatta del suo lavoro. (She is satisfied by her job.)
Siamo contenti di partire per le vacanze. (We are happy to leave for vacation.)

Avere
Used to express physical sensations or needs:
Abbiamo tanta fame questa sera. (We are very hungry this evening.)
Ho molto sonno che ho dormito poco ieri notte. (I’m tired because I didn’t sleep much last night.)
Lui ha sete che oggi fa caldo fuori. (He’s thirsty because it’s hot outside today.)

The next time you are introducing yourself to a new friend or getting to know someone better, remember these basic rules to describe and express your state of being!