Being hungry or full

Just like I promised, I’m going to go over some actual expressions and some grammar instead of single-word explanations. In this post, I would like to go over how to say whether you’re hungry or full, obviously something that’s going to be useful, especially if you want to ask someone out for a bite to eat. The reason I’m covering this is because just learning the Japanese word for “full” and “hungry” and attaching 「です」 is not going to work. (Well, it works for “full” but not “hungry”.)

How to say you’re full
Saying you’re full is the simple part. The word most commonly used here is the adjective 「いっぱい」, which, as you might expect, means “full” in Japanese. Unless it’s understood from the context, you’ll also need the word for stomach which is most commonly 「お腹」(おなか). So to simply say you are full, you would most likely say something like the following.

1)お腹いっぱいです。- Stomach is full. (polite)
2)お腹いっぱい。- Stomach is full. (casual)

Here’s a sample conversation.

Aさん)お代わりいらない?- You don’t need another helping?
Bさん) もうお腹いっぱいだから、大丈夫です。- Stomach is full already so it’s ok.

As an aside, if you want to sound fancy, you can also use 「満腹」(まんぷく) instead of 「いっぱい」. It also has a nuance of being a little fuller than just full as shown by this next example.

1)食った食ったもう満腹。- Ate, ate! Already stuffed.

How to say you’re hungry
Here’s the part where things get interesting. Unlike the Japanese word for “full”, which is an adjective same as English, there is no adjective for the word “hungry”. Well, technically there is the word 「空腹」(くうふく) which means “hungry”, but it is not normally used.

Instead, the verb 「空く」(すく) is normally used to say that your stomach was “emptied”. This means that we must use the past tense of the verb to indicate that the emptying already happened. In this case, it would be either 「空いた」 for casual or 「空きました」 for the polite form. (reference for past-tense, reference for polite past-tense)

1)お腹空いた。- Stomach is emptied. (Got hungry)
2)お腹空きました。- Stomach is emptied. (Got hungry)

You can also use the enduring-state form to say that your stomach is in the state of being emptied. The meaning is essentially the same but the nuance is different because the stomach already emptied and has stayed in that state. In other words, the hungriness has continued for a certain period. With the past tense, you get the sense that you just got hungry.

1)朝ご飯食べなくてお腹すごく空いているよ。- I didn’t eat breakfast and I’m really hungry.

Finally, there is a more vulgar expression that is used for being hungry. It’s mostly for the rougher men-folk. Basically, instead of using 「お腹」 for stomach and 「空く」 for emptying, you use 「腹」(はら) and 「減る」(へる). 「腹」 is simply a 「お腹」 without the honorific 「お」 and 「減る」 is another verb that simply means “to decrease”. The idea is basically the same as before.

1)いつ食べるの?減ったよ。- When eat? I’m hungry.

So let’s go back to what we were originally after, how to ask someone out for a bite to eat!

ボブ) お腹空いたどっか食べ行こうよ。
– You hungry? Let’s go somewhere to eat.

みき) ごめんもう食べたから、お腹いっぱいだよ。
– Sorry. I already ate so I’m not hungry.

一郎) 減ったんだけど。
– I’m hungry.

ボブ) お前には聞いてないよ。
– I’m not asking you.

Main Vocabulary Covered
【お腹】(おなか) – (n) stomach
【腹】(はら) – (n) stomach (vulgar)
【いっぱい】 – (adj) full
【満腹】(まんぷく) – (adj) full stomach
【空く】(すく) – (v) to empty
【減る】(へる) – (v) to decrease

7 thoughts on “Being hungry or full

  1. Hello!
    I’m sorry I’m posting this here instead of a forum, but I didn’t really want to start another thread.
    Could you give an explanation of the differences between using って,って(と)事,って(と)いう事?
    I mean, take for an example this kind of sentence:
    what’s the difference, if I write it like this:
    Another one, this one from a japanese novel:
    again, what if I re-write it like this:
    Your clarification on this matter would be really appreciated.
    Again, I’m sorry, I posted it here and if you have objections I won’t do it anymore.
    On a side note, I don’t think you have to be reminded how wonderful your site is, do you…

  2. 「おなかペコペコ」 is also a useful expression meaning “i’m starving!”

  3. First of all, 事 is used to describe matters or things that depict events. So 「漢字っていう事便利だ」 sounds odd.

    There is no significant difference between:
    The first is just a shorter version of the second.

    Hmmm… there’s not really much more I can think of that can help answer your question.

  4. I was watching the first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist yesterday and I heard the main character mix the two styles: お腹が減った

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