Italian word of the day: 'Bisogno'

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 30 Oct, 2018 Updated Tue 30 Oct 2018 17:46 CEST
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We think there's a need for this word to be better understood.


Bisogno is a word that doesn’t translate easily into English.

But if you ever need to say you need something, then you need to learn this construction.

The Italian verb bisognare (to need) has become redundant except for in its third person form, bisogno.

It’s used with the verb avere (to have), and di (of).

Ho bisogno di un paio di scarpe nuove

I need a new pair of shoes

So ‘avere bisogno di…’ literally translates as ‘to have a need for…’

Here are a few more examples:

Tu hai bisogno di riposarti 

you need to rest

Marco ha bisogno di studiare di piu’ 

Marco needs to study more

Signora, ha bisogno di aiuto? 

Do you need some help, Madam?

Not too difficult, right?


Instead of avere, you might use c’e. This makes it more impersonal: c’è bisogno di (literally: ‘there’s need for’)

It’s used in places where, in English, we’d say ‘you need’ or (if you’re very posh) ‘one needs’.

per costruire un muro c’è bisogno di mattoni

to build a wall you need bricks (literally ‘to build a wall there’s a need for bricks’)

Bisogno is commonly confused with bisogna, another remnant of the defunct verb bisognare.

The difference is small, but it can be important.

It means something similar to ‘c’e bisogno di’ –  ‘must/have to” or “It’s necessary” and you use it when stressing the fact that something really needs to get done.

bisogna pagare la bolletta del telefono

The telephone bill must be paid

Per passare gli esami bisogna studiare molto

To pass exams you have to study a lot

And we're sure you'll agree that tutti gli studenti di lingua italiana hanno bisogno di imparare questa parola!



The Local Italy 2018/10/30 17:46

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