Mangia! How to Say EAT in Italian

Italy is synonymous with good eats!

Learn how to talk about eating, with the main Italian verb for eat: mangiare. Find out how to pronounce it, and how to use it in the present, past, and command forms. 

Not only that:

  • discover various ways to say eat! and enjoy your food! (like mangia! and buon appetite!)
  • find out how to talk about the Italian meals of the day from colazione (breakfast) to cena (dinner) and everything in between
  • learn adverbs for talking about eating, like piano (slowly) and tanto (a lot!)
  • learn phrases about eating a ton, like abbuffarsi (to stuff oneself)
  • find out about other verbs that mean to eat in Italian. 

Let’s dig in!


The main Italian verb in Italian for eat is mangiare. It is a regular verb with the ending -are. Mangiare means to eat. Stay tuned to find out how to use it in action!

The pronunciation of mangiare is: mahn-jee-AH-reh

Listen to how to pronounce mangiare here:

Quando vado in Italia ho un solo obiettivo: mangiare!
When I go to Italy I have just one goal: to eat! 

Have you ever heard Italians say magnare (pronounced mahn-ee-AH-reh), or magnà (mahn-ee-AH)? This is the verb magnare, which is mangiare (to eat) in Roman dialect, but it is used even more widely throughout Italy, especially in the south.


Mangiare (to eat) follows the regular pattern of verbs ending in -are. So:

I eat(io) mangio
you eat (informal singular)(tu) mangi
he/she eats(lui/lei) mangia
you eat (plural) (voi) mangiate
we eat (noi) mangiamo
they eat(loro) mangiano

You’ll see that the Italian subject pronouns are in parentheses. This is because you often don’t need to include the subject or subject pronoun: you can figure out who the subject is from the verb conjugation.

Mangiamo sempre tardi giovedì sera perché ho la lezione di cucina alle 18.
We always eat late on Thursday night because I have a cooking lesson at 6 pm.

Non mangi la carne?
You don’t eat meat?


To talk about eating in the past, you can use the passato prossimo form. To do it, conjugate the auxiliary verb (in this case, avere), and add the past participle: mangiato

The passato prossimo usually corresponds to both the simple past and the present perfect in English. For example, the passato prossimo of mangiare is ate, or has/have eaten

Here is the complete conjugation of mangiare (to eat) in the passato prossimo:

I ate, I have eaten(io) ho mangiato
you ate, you have eaten (informal singular)(tu) hai mangiato
he/she ate, he/she has eaten(lui/lei) ha mangiato
you ate, you have eaten (plural) (voi) avete mangiato
we ate, we have eaten (noi) abbiamo mangiato
they ate, they have eaten(loro) hanno mangiato

Sara e Piero hanno mangiato al nuovo ristorante giapponese ieri sera.
Sara and Piero ate at the new Japanese restaurant yesterday evening.


Woman gesturing to a plate of truffle pasta and saying in a graphic speech bubble, "È ora di mangiare!"

The Italian table is sacred, a place for family and friends to gather around meals of delicious food. Not only that, standard mealtimes give shape to the ark of the day.

What if it’s 1pm, your stomach is growling and you want to get things rolling? Or it’s time to get people to the table at mealtime? Italians have quite a few ways to say Let’s eat!

È ora di mangiare means It’s time to eat

Andiamo a mangiare means Let’s go eat.

A tavola! is a phrase you’ll hear in Italian homes up and down the peninsula. The literal translation is To the table! and you’d better get there quick or the pasta will get cold.

Tutti a mangiare! is similar to the last phrase. It means Everybody eat! so hurry up and get to the table.

Si mangia is the impersonal form of mangiare. It literally means one eats, but the sense is let’s eat, or we’re eating.

Mangiamo! means let’s eat! when said as a command.

Here are some examples of these phrases in action:

La pasta è pronta. A tavola!
Lunch is ready. To the table!

Ora che abbiamo fatto il brindisi, si mangia!
Now that we’ve made a toast, let’s eat!


When everyone has gathered around the table, even if it’s just two people, it’s polite to wish them buon appetito. Similar to the French phrase bon appetit, buon appetito means enjoy your meal

If you are bidding goodbye to someone who is off to have a meal, you can wish them:

Buon pranzo, or enjoy your lunch, have a good lunch
Buona cena, or enjoy your dinner, have a good dinner

These two phrases usually aren’t used at a meal: use buon appetito at the meal if you are eating with the person. 


Is your companion feeling shy about digging into their lasagne? Do you want to offer them the last piece of bruschetta? You can say mangia!

Mangia! is a word you’ve probably heard in films or tv shows with Italian characters. It is one conjugation of the command form, or the imperative (l’imperativo) of the verb mangiare. Use the imperative to tell someone to go ahead and eat, like this:

Mangia! means Eat! in the informal singular you form. Use it when speaking to someone you know well.

Mangi! means Eat! in the formal singular you form. Use it when speaking to someone you don’t know well, an elder, or someone with superior social status.

Mangiate! means Eat! in the plural you form. Use it when speaking to a group. 

Mangiamo! means Let’s eat!


The Italian day is punctuated by clearly defined meals, instead of being an all day snack-fest. 

  • Colazione is breakfast
  • Pranzo is lunch
  • Cena is dinner
  • Spuntino is a light snack to tide you over
  • Merenda is a snack, usually in the late afternoon
  • Aperitivo is like a pre-dinner happy hour, or cocktail hour, with a drink and plenty of food! 

However, the verb to use with these meals is not mangiare, but fare. For example, to say eat lunch, say fare pranzo. To say eat a snack, say fare merenda

Io e Caterina facciamo cena insieme sabato sera.
Caterina and I eat dinner together on Saturday night.

Mi piace fare colazione al bar, hanno i cornetti buonissimi.
I like eating breakfast at the bar, they have great croissants.

There are also two verbs that you can use directly:

pranzare means to eat lunch
cenare means to eat dinner

Non pranzo mai al ristorante.
I never eat lunch at a restaurant.


To describe how you eat, you can add an adverb to the verb mangiare, like this:

  • mangiare poco is to eat little, to eat a little
  • mangiare tanto is to eat a lot
  • mangiare troppo is to eat too much

Giuseppe mangia poco a cena.
Giuseppe eats little at dinner.

  • mangiare bene is to eat well, as in the food is good
  • mangiare male is to eat badly, as in the food is bad

Abbiamo mangiato molto bene al matrimonio di Saverio. 
We ate very well at Saverio’s wedding/The food was very good at Saverio’s wedding.

  • mangiare velocemente is to eat fast
  • mangiare di fretta is to eat in a rush
  • mangiare piano is to eat slowly

Oggi devo mangiare di fretta se voglio arrivare in orario alla riunione. 
Today I must eat in a rush if I want to be on time for the meeting. 

To talk about where you eat, you can say:

  • mangiare a casa, or to eat at home, to eat in
  • mangiare fuori, or to eat out

Stasera Giovanni le porta a mangiare fuori.
Tonight Giovanni is taking her out to eat.


When Italian meals are especially abundant and over the top (for example at the holidays), here are a few good words:

  • abbuffata= huge meal, feast
  • mangiata/magnata= big meal, feast

Sono ancora piena dopo l’abbuffata di Natale.
I’m still full after the huge Christmas meal.

Someone has to eat all that delicious Italian food, it might as well be us! Here are some phrases related to doing a lot of eating.

  • abbuffarsi = to stuff oneself
  • farsi una mangiata (di) = to eat a ton (of), to feast (on)
  • mangiare come un bufalo = to eat like a horse (literally: to eat like a buffalo)
  • essere un mangione = to be a big eater

Al ristorante di pesce ci siamo fatti una mangiata di cozze.
At the seafood restaurant we ate a ton of mussels.


Here are some other verbs that mean to eat in Italian, besides mangiare

consumareto eat or drink, as in to consume:
I pasti vanno consumati a tavola.
Meals should be eaten at the table.
nutrirsito eat, as in to nourish oneself:
Gli atleti devono nutrirsi bene.
Athletes must eat well.
corrodereto eat away at, as in to corrode:
L’acido corrode il metallo.
Acid eats away at metal.
cibarsito eat, as in to feed on:
Gli avvoltoi si cibano di carogna.
Vultures feed on carrion.