'TO BE' OR NOT 'TO BE'?
ESSERE O AVERE?
Let's figure out why Italians say 'ho fame', 'ho sete', 'ho sonno', etc. with the verb 'to have' instead of 'to be'!
As you probably know, 'Avere' (to have) is used in many idiomatic expressions that indicate feelings or physical sensations. The pattern is 'avere + noun':
The equivalent English expressions are generally formed with 'to be'.
Why this difference? Because in some specific situations, we use the noun, and not the adjective.
When you say: 'I am thirsty', you are using an adjective, and for this reason you have to use 'to be'. Italians do the same thing when they want to express specific qualities or feelings, using 'to be' (Essere) + Adjectives (e.g. 'sono felice' - I'm happy).
In this case, the Italian adjective for 'thirsty' is 'assetato', however this adjective is not widely used, to say 'thirsty' Italians always use the noun 'thirst' ( = sete), then they must use 'to have' (Avere): 'Ho sete', which (translated literally) is something like: 'I have thirst'.
Let's see a few examples:
Giulia is always in a hurry.
Ho caldo. Ho voglia di un gelato.
I'm hot. I feel like having ice cream.
Ho sonno, vado a dormire.
I'm sleepy, I go to sleep.
Bene, I hope it was helpful!