A few weeks ago a Japanese friend told me the way to say I'm hungry is お腹がすいた, and today, doing an exercise in my textbook, I found the following sentence: はい、食べたいです。お腹が空いていますから。

Is there any difference between them?

I checked this post and the first person answering says there is a difference, but he can't explain what it is.

what is the past tense of お腹が空いた?

数週間前、日本人の友達が「I'm hungry.」を日本語に訳すと「お腹がすいた」になると言いましたが、今日教科書の問題をしながら、下記の文を見つけました:「はい、食べたいです。お腹が空いていますから。」


ちなみに、「what is the past tense of お腹が空いた?」というポストをチェックしましたが、最初の回答者は、違いはあるけど説明はできない、とおっしゃいましたのではっきりしないままです。

  • A few examples from a paper: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/19838055#19838055
    – user1478
    Feb 1, 2015 at 21:02
  • Yeah, I read them a while ago, but I cant access the chat from my mobile phone. Very good examples, thanks a lot :)
    – Daniel
    Feb 1, 2015 at 21:09
  • 1
    If you're a male the preferred expression is 腹減った. Feb 3, 2015 at 2:14
  • What is this bilingual questioning pattern that we suddenly started seeing lately about? Does this mean we could answer in either language or what?
    – user4032
    Feb 3, 2015 at 13:03
  • @l'électeur See this discussion on meta.
    – senshin
    Feb 3, 2015 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


Your question is too good, but when I dare to consider the difference, (お腹が)空いた feels that you now have found yourself hungry from a subjective viewpoint and the feel of hunger is right on you in the moment you utter the word. On the other hand, …空いている is somehow objective.

Considering はい、食べたいです。お腹が空いていますから that your text book says, that expression feels a little too logical for a person who is really hungry, if he/she really is. He/She would be more likely to say 食べたいです。お腹すきました。.


Just my two cents, but here goes.

The base form of your sentence is: お腹が空く - to become hungry; to get an empty stomach according to jisho.org/onaka-ga-suku

So, taking the two in formal form:

お腹がすきました = "My stomach became empty" just like 誰かが来ました is "Someone came."

お腹が空いています = "My stomach is empty" just like 誰かが来ていますis "Someone is here."

So they basically mean the same thing, but with a slight twist.

The rest of this answer is pure opinion.

Personally I think お腹がすきました is more soft/polite/indirect. It's like saying "I became hungry, and now I'm not sure what I'll do about it. Any suggestions?" That way you politely allow your conversation partner to suggest if you should go get something to eat, if you should wait a little, or something third.

お腹が空いています is more strong/direct/clear. It's like saying "I'm hungry, so I want something to eat. Are you coming with me?" There isn't much room to discuss whether to wait or not, because you are hungry now.

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