Italian expression of the day: 'Mi va'

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Italian expression of the day: 'Mi va'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond"

Do you fancy getting to grips with this casual phrase?


If you've studied some Italian, you’re probably already familiar with the verb volere, 'to want':

- voglio/vorrei un caffe

- I want/I would like a coffee

But there's more than one way to tell people what you want (or don’t want) in Italian, and one construction you’ll often hear used in informal situations is mi va.


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

You’d normally use it to talk about a desire that strikes you, rather than for 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 others might like, and to invite them to do so:

- 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 probably more common however to hear 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 (and polite) 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 could translate as 'No way!' or 'Get out of town!'.

Mi va means much the same as ho voglia di (meaning 'I feel like'.)

- Ho voglia di andare al centro stasera

- I feel like going into the centre this evening

Once you've mastered these phrases, you'll be able to use whichever one you feel like.

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vicgraff 2022/09/15 20:57
how about the word "pantofalaio"? Think it's english meaning is "a homebody" derived from the Italian word for slippers.
somilondon50 2022/09/15 18:18
Don you think this phrase is common across Italy? I’d be wary of using it say in Puglia if it’s a Northern expression!

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