I’m Hungry in Japanese – Ways to express that you want to eat

In this lesson, we teach you how to say “I’m hungry” in Japanese along with its related phrases. It will be one of the key phrases for expressing how you feel in your day-to-day conversation. Let’s get started!

A guy holding a sign board with Japanese text and chopsticks on the other hand

How to Say “I’m Hungry” in Japanese

We say “I am hungry” when we feel hungry in English, but the Japanese expression doesn’t start with “I” as a subject. Instead, it starts with “My stomach” as a subject.

おなかがすいた (Onaka ga suita | お腹が空いた) and おなかがへった (Onaka ga hetta | お腹が減った) are the most common way of saying “I’m hungry,” and it literally means “My stomach is emptied” or “Things in my belly/tummy has decreased.” First, we will show you the most commonly used phrases here.

Basic Japanese Phrases to say “I’m Hungry”

Here are various ways to say that you are hungry in Japanese. We’ve also added different ways to say “I’m hungry,” depending on who you are speaking with below.

KanjiHiraganaRomaji
お腹が空いたおなかがすいた Onaka ga suita
わたしはお腹が空いていますわたしはおなかがすいています Watashi wa onaka ga suitreimasu
お腹が空きましたおなかがすきました Onaka ga suki mashita
お腹が減ったおなかがへった Onaka ga hetta
わたしはお腹が減っていますわたしはおなかがへっています Watashi wa onaka ga hetteimasu

“I’m hungry” in Japanese (Formal)

If you need to speak formally, such as speaking with someone of higher rank or status, here are the phrases that you can use to say when you’re hungry.

KanjiHiraganaRomaji
空腹ですくうふくです Kuufuku desu
お腹が空きましたおなかがすきました Onaka ga sukimashita
お腹が空いていますおなかがすいています Onaka ga suiteimasu
お腹が減りましたおなかがへりました Onaka ga herimashita

“I’m hungry” in Japanese (Informal)

Japanese people tend to skip the subject and the case particle は (wa) or が (ga) while talking.

You will probably hear おなかすいた (Onaka suita | お腹空いた), おなかへった (Onaka hetta | お腹減った), and はらへった (Hara hetta | 腹減った) instead of the complete sentences with subject and particle more often, but the meanings remain the same.

The following expressions are the informal way to say “I’m hungry” in the Japanese language, and it’s suitable for conversation among Japanese friends, family members, and close people.

KanjiHiraganaRomaji
お腹が空いたおなかがすいた Onaka ga suita
お腹が減った *おなかがへった Onaka ga hetta
腹が空いた *はらがすいた Hara ga suita
腹が減った *はらがへった Hara ga hetta

*The phrases can be slightly masculine.

“I’m very hungry” in Japanese (Informal)

You can use the expression おなかがとてもすいた (Onaka ga totemo suita | お腹がとても空いた) or おなかがすごくすいた (Onaka ga sugoku suita | お腹がすごく空いた) by adding adjectives to say “I’m hungry” and “I’m starving” in Japanese.

However, there are other ways to say them casually. Let’s take a look!

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
I'm very hungry, I'm starving お腹がぺこぺこ おなかがぺこぺこ Onaka ga pekopeko
I’m starving 腹ぺこ はらぺこ Harapeko
I'm starving to death * 腹ぺこで死にそう はらぺこでしにそう Harapeko de shinisou
I'm so hungry to the degree that my stomach and back can stick together お腹と背中がくっついた おなかとせなかがくっついた Onaka to senaka ga kuttsuita
My stomach is making noises お腹がぐうぐう鳴っている おなかがぐうぐうなっている Onaka ga guuguu natteiru

*The expressions can be slightly masculine.

How to say “I’m full” in Japanese

If you’ve already eaten, here are the different ways to say “I’m full” in Japanese.

“I’m full” in Japanese (Formal)

If you’re already feeling full, here are the phrases that you can use in a polite and formal way.

KanjiHiraganaRomaji
満腹になりましたまんぷくになりました Manpuku ni narimashita
お腹が一杯ですおなかがいっぱいです Onaka ga ippai desu
空腹が満たされましたくうふくがみたされました Kuufuku ga mitasare mashita
お腹が膨れましたおなかがふくれました Onaka ga fukuremshita

“I’m full” in Japanese (Informal)

Hopefully, after eating, you’ll no longer say onaka ga suita, but instead say おなかがいっぱい (Onaka ga ippai | お腹が一杯), meaning “I’m full” in Japanese. Here are more ways to say this phrase in a casual way:

KanjiHiraganaRomaji
お腹が一杯おなかがいっぱい Onaka ga ippai
たらふく食べたたらふくたべた Tarafuku tabeta
お腹がぱんぱんおなかがぱんぱん Onaka ga panpan
満腹まんぷく Manpuku
お腹が破裂する おなかがはれつする Onaka ga haretsu suru

*My stomach is about to burst

Other Japanese Phrases related to feeling hungry

Besides expressing that you are hungry, here are other related expressions that you can say in Japanese. These can be feeling of thirst or when your stomach rumbles due to hunger.

“Thirsty” in Japanese

If you’re thirsty, you can use the expression のどがかわいた (Nodo ga kawaita | 喉が渇いた), and this literally means “My throat is dried up.”

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
I'm thirsty 喉が渇いた のどがかわいた Nodo ga kawaita
I'm thirsty 喉が渇いています のどがかわいています Nodo ga kawaiteimasu
My stomach is rumbling お腹が鳴った おなかがなった Onaka ga natta
My stomach is rumbling お腹が鳴っています おなかがなっています Onaka ga natteimasu

Commonly Used Verb and Adverb

It’s also possible to say おなかがすいている (Onaka ga suiteiru | お腹が空いている) and おなかがすく (Onaka ga suku | お腹が空く) using the present form, but Japanese people often use the simple past tense to describe their condition.

The definition of the Japanese verb すく (Suku | 空く) is to start having an open space after certain things are gone.

There is a word closer to “hungry” in English, though the Japanese verb うえる (Ueru | 飢える) gives a stronger hunger with agony than a light hunger. Therefore, it’s expected to convey the severe scarcity of food and not in everyday-life conversation.

Basic Verb

Here are the different Japanese verbs associated with feeling hungry.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
to become free, to empty 空くすく suku
to decrease, to reduce 減る へる heru
to be hungry, to starve 飢える うえる ueru
to get dry, to be thirsty 渇く かわく kawaku

If you’d like to learn more about verbs, our separate article on Japanese verbs can teach you more about them.

Verb Tense Variations for すく (suku | 空く)

Below are different ways to say “I’m hungry” considering its various verb tenses.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
I'm hungry お腹が空いた おなかがすいた Onaka ga suita
I was hungry お腹が空いていた おなかがすいていた Onaka ga suiteita
I'm getting hungry お腹が空いてきた おなかがすいてきた Onaka ga suitekita
I'll be hungry お腹が空く おなかがすく Onaka ga suku
I've been hungry お腹が空いている おなかがすいている Onaka ga suiteiru

A hungry girl thinking about Japanese rice balls

Tips for using I’m Hungry in Everyday-life and Fun Facts

Now that you know how to say “I’m hungry” in the Japanese language, here are more ways for you to use the newly-learned vocabulary.

How to ask “Are you hungry?” and other questions

We’ve learned how to say “I’m hungry,” but what about asking questions related to it? Let’s take a look at the common phrases here. This way, you’ll know how to respond better by having knowledge of these questions. Some of them are useful for visitors to Japan, too.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
Are you hungry? お腹空いた?おなかすいた?Onaka suita?
Aren't you hungry? お腹が空いていませんか? おなかがすいていませんか? Onaka ga suite imasenka?
What do you want to eat? 何が食べたい? なにがたべたい?Nani ga tabetai?
What would you like to eat? 何が食べたいですか?なにがたべたいですか? Nani ga tabetai desuka?
Do you want to eat something? 何か食べたい?なにかたべたい? Nanika tabetai?
Is there anything you want to eat? 何か食べたいものはありますか?なにかたべたいものはありますか? Nanika tabetai mono wa arimasuka?
What do you serve here?, What can we eat here? ここでは何が食べられますか? ここではなにがたべられますか? Koko dewa nani ga taberare masuka?

Adverbs can help you a lot

You can convey the situation better by using adverbs. Many words are very functional but have more than one meaning each. Therefore, don’t forget to pay attention to the context rather than the words themselves. Here are some sample adverbs:

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
already, any more, another, againもう mou
gradually, more and moreだんだん dandan
yet, still, so far, besidesまだ mada
a bit, slightly, more or less, somewhat 少し すこし sukoshi
rather, kind of, a bit, a littleちょっと chotto

Phrases with Adverb

Below are some phrases that you can use with the adverbs listed above.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
I’m already hungry もうお腹が減った もうおなかがへった Mou onaka ga hetta
I'm getting hungry だんだんお腹が空いてきました だんだんおなかがすいてきました Dandan onaka ga suite kimashita
I'm hungry, but the meal is not ready yet お腹がぺこぺこなのに、まだご飯の支度ができていません おなかがぺこぺこなのに、まだごはんのしたくができていません Onaka ga pekopeko nanoni, mada gohan no shitaku ga dekite imasen
I'm still hungry, so I'd like a refill まだお腹が空いているので、お代わりが欲しいです まだおなかがすいているので、おかわりがほしいです Mada onaka ga suiteiru node, okawari ga hoshii desu
I'm a little hungry, so let's go eat something 少しお腹が減ったので、何か食べに行こう すこしおなかがへったので、なにかたべにいこう Sukoshi onaka ga hetta node, nanika tabe ni ikou
Aren't you a little hungry? ちょっとお腹空かない? ちょっとおなかすかない? Chotto onaka sukanai?

Dialects of I’m Hungry and I’m Full in Japanese

Apart from the different ways to express being hungry and full in Japanese, as listed above, there are also more ways of saying these terms. These depend on certain areas in Japan, as listed below.

Niigata, Fukushima area

  • ” I’m full” – はらくっちゃい (Hara kucchai | 腹くっちゃい)

Mie, Wakayama area

  • “I’m hungry” – かいだるい (Kandarui | 腕弛い)
  • “I’m hungry” – かいだり (Kaidari | 腕弛り)
  • ” I’m full” – おなかがおおきい (Onaka ga ookii | お腹が大きい)

Kagawa, Tokushima area

  • ” I’m full” – おなかがおきる (Onaka ga okiru | お腹が起きる)

Okinawa Area

  • “I’m hungry” – ヤーサイ (Yaasai )
  • “I’m hungry” – ヤーサン (Yaasan)
  • ” I’m full” – チュファーラ (Chufaara)

Idioms with はら (Hara | Stomach) in Japanese

Idioms are quite common in Japan. And so we have listed those which are related to feeling hungry below, along with their meaning.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
When you're hungry, you can't do a good job 腹が減っては戦ができぬ はらがへってはいくさができぬ Hara ga hette wa ikusa ga dekinu
To line one's own pockets 私腹を肥やす しふくをこやす Shifuku wo koyasu
Drinking tea can help you stay hungry for a while -Even a small amount can be a temporary solution- 茶腹も一時 ちゃばらもいっとき Chabara mo ittoki
evil-hearted, wicked 腹黒 はらぐろ Haraguro
the eating habit to get 80 percent full in Confucian teaching 腹八分目 はらはちぶんめ Hara hachi bun me

Greeting and useful vocabulary at the table

Before you fill your stomach with Japanese food, here is some useful vocabulary related to eating.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
Let’s eat, Thank you for the mealいただきます Itadakimasu
Thank you for the mealごちそうさま Gochisousama
It tastes good, tasty 美味しい おいしい Oishii
to eat 食べる たべる Taberu
to drink 飲む のむ Nomu
food 食べ物 たべもの Tabe mono
drink 飲み物 のみもの Nomi mono
to leave the food 食べ残す たべのこす Tabe nokosu
food allergies 食物アレルギー しょくもつアレルギー Shokumotsu arerugii
a refill, another helping お代わり おかわり Okawari
all you can eat 食べ放題 たべほうだい Tabe houdai

Conclusion

Before we wrap this up, did you know that there’s an onomatopoeia specifically used when you’re feeling hungry? It’s こぺこぺ (peko peko) or the sound of a grumbling stomach! If you’d like to know more about these sounds, we have a fun article on Japanese onomatopoeia.

We hope this lesson has filled you with new knowledge of Japanese words and phrases!

がんばっ てください (Ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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