I've heard on some American TV shows "I'm starving" instead of "I'm starved".

What is the correct usage of both sentences?.

3 Answers 3


They are both exaggerations of the same thing, namely "I'm very hungry". It seems to make little difference whether the present ongoing tense is used or whether a past tense is used; both are equally valid, and convey the same meaning.

  • Perhaps important to add that "starved" is usually American, while "starving" is British. Media globalisation is perhaps bringing unfamiliar idioms into people's homes.
    – WS2
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:34
  • @WS2 I'd be interested in seeing proof of that, because Google Ngram doesn't support that. As an American, I prefer "I'm starving" too.
    – Laurel
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:45
  • @Laurel I seldom, if ever, hear anyone in Britain say "I'm starved".
    – WS2
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:33

My personal opinion is that "I'm starving" implies that the state is ongoing, whereas "I'm starved" implies that some kind of limit has been reached.

  • 3
    The difference is very slight. In interpretation of actual usage, I wouldn't presume too much on that distinction.
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 18:34
  • Literally that is true, but colloquially the two phrases are equivalent
    – rghome
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:22

Used colloquially, the two phrases are equivalent (I am very hungry). In the UK anyway, the choice between them is regional.

But interestingly, in Lancashire the phrase "I'm starved" can mean "I am cold". Foreign nurses trained to understand Lancashire phrases.

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