When you first start learning Italian you will often learn the verb ‘volere’. This verb means ‘to want’. A verb is a doing word, a word which expresses an action. In this particular case, the action is ‘to want’ or ‘to desire’ something. 



The Italian word for ‘I want’ is voglio. It can be used before an infinitive verb, such as ‘voglio mangiare una pizza’ (I want to eat a pizza). In this case it’s called a modal verb, you can read all about them here (insert link to modal verb piece once published). Otherwise it can be used before a noun, see some examples below:


Voglio un bicchiere di vino rosso – I want a glass of red wine

Voglio un succo di frutta – I want a fruit juice

Voglio comprare una borsa – I want to buy a bag

Voglio andare al supermercato – I want to go to the supermarket


However, there’s more than one way to express a desire in Italian, and today we’re going to look at two of of them. They’re both idiomatic expressions, which means that they’re difficult to translate literally and word for word, but they all have the general meaning of ‘I want’.


Ho voglia


This is formed using the correct person of the verb ‘avere’ (to have) with the word ‘voglia’ which means desire. It can be translated as ‘to want’, ‘to feel like’ or ‘to fancy’. Let’s look at some examples:


Fa troppo caldo oggi. Ho voglia di un bel gelato freddo – It’s so hot today. I really fancy a nice cold ice cream

Ho proprio voglia di andare in vacanza – I really feel like going on holiday

Sono stanca, non ho voglia di andare a lavoro – I’m tired, I have no desire to go to work

Che bella giornata! Ho voglia di fare una passeggiata – What a beautiful day! I feel like going for a walk

Non ho voglia di parlare adesso – I don’t feel like talking right now

Ho voglia di fare qualcosa di divertente oggi – I want to do something fun today 


Mi va


This is formed using the right pronoun, in this case ‘mi’ and the third person singular of the verb andare – ‘va’. The literal translation is ‘it goes to me’ which doesn’t make any sense! So the real meaning is ‘I want’ or ‘I feel like’. Let’s look at some examples here:


Posso fare quello che mi va – I can do what I want

Non mi va di cucinare stasera – I don’t feel like cooking this evening

Non so se mi va di uscire – I don’t know if I feel like going out

Mi va di mangiare una bistecca – I feel like eating a steak

Ti va di studiare italiano insieme? Sì, certo che che mi va! – Would you like to study Italian together? Yes I certainly would!