Italian expression of the day: ‘Mi va’

Italian expression of the day: 'Mi va'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Don't you fancy getting to grips with this casual phrase?

You’re probably already familiar with the Italian verb volere, to want.

-voglio/vorrei un caffe

-I want/I would like a coffee

But there are a few ways to tell people what you want (or don’t want) in Italian, and one you’ll hear used in informal situations is mi va.

The literal translation is “it goes to me”, but what it really means is “I feel like” or “I fancy”.

You’d normally use it when the mood strikes you, rather than when describing carefully thought-out plans.

-Mi va di mangiare una pizza

-I feel like eating a pizza

Or, if you change the pronoun, you can use it to suggest things to others:

-Ti va di prendere un caffè? 

-Do you fancy getting a coffee?

When used like that, it’s a more informal version of ti andrebbe.

It’s more common however to hear people use the negative form of mi va. For example:

-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 fancy going out

You can also use it as a casual way of saying you don’t want something. For example, to get rid of a pushy street vendor, a simple “allora, non mi va” would work.

You might also hear mi va used in phrases like:

-Posso fare quello che mi va

-I can do what I want

Try not to get it mixed up with mi sa, which means “it seems to me”, or ma va’, which means “No way!” or “Yeah right!”.

Mi va means much the same as ho voglia di (literally: “I have want of”, meaning “I feel like”.)

-Ho voglia di andare al centro stasera

-I feel like going into the centre this evening

So next time you need to tell someone what you want, you can use whichever phrase you feel like.

Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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