What’s the difference in おなかがいたい and いがいたい? In English don’t we just say stomach ache instead of going into specifics about stomaches, bowels, colons and so on?

I think おなかがいたい is used for times when you are dashing to the toilet whereas いがいたい is a pain higher up. Have I got them mixed up again?!


  1. this is a bit off-topic. Your blog is damn so interesting and useful (this is not a “captatio benevolentiae”, if you know what I mean).
    Hope to learn more of these sentences to use when I will go to Japan. I usually write more posts in Italian, but I will keep translating them if I know that someone will read them.

  2. onaka ga itai means your bowels hurt while i ga itai means you stomach hurts

  3. reminds me I used to mix it up and say inaka ga itai 😛

  4. Tokidoki-san, at first I thought you were being sarcastic (must be the English in me) but I can only hope you were being sincere. Thanks, anyway.
    Roy, thanks for the clarification. The reason I am confused is that the first phrase I learnt for stomach ache was ‘おなかがいたい’. Isn’t that what books normally teach?
    いなかがいたい?I like that one 😉 I make so many of the same slip-ups like that myself. Ah well.

  5. Darren, I must admit that I tend to be sarcastic (must be the south-Italian in me) but believe me this was not the case. What I wrote was really 心から, not joking or else. I must say thanks, really.

  6. I think it’s same or at least almost same. I don’t know what the differnce is…(--)?

  7. I ended up thinking that “おなか” means abdomen and “胃(い)” means stomach.
    Usually I use these two sentences as same meaning, but sometimes not.
    For example, when I have a stitch, I would say 「(笑いすぎて)おなかが痛い!」but it’s not stomach ache. 胃が痛いわけではない。

  8. Miyo-san and Roy-san explanations make perfectly sense to me, the difference between お腹 and 胃. As a matter of fact in Italian we have the same difference and two different ways to express pain in this case.

  9. The key is in the difference between the words 胃(い) and お腹(おなか). 胃 is the stomach in a medical sense; in other words, the actual organ. お腹, on the other hand, is the belly, or the stomach in a wider sense. The kanji in お腹 is also pronounced はら, and the Kojien gives the definition of this word as 動物体で、頭・胸に続き、それらと尾との間にある部分- in other words, the part of the body following on from the head and the chest, and between these and the tail (or where a tail would be). The fact that お腹 means stomach in a wider sense is reinforced by phrases such as お腹の子(おなかのこ), referring to a baby still in the womb (but not, of course, physically in the stomach, the 胃), or お腹をかかえて笑う(おなかをかかえてわらう), which means something along the lines of ‘to split one’s sides laughing’.
    Therefore, the difference in usage comes down to how specific you want to be. I would say that お腹が痛い(おなかがいたい) is the more common, if for no other reason than that, as Darren suggested, people aren’t normally that specific about where, or what, hurts. I would say that if the pain was enough to necessitate a visit to the hospital, though, then 胃が痛い(いがいたい) would be the more appropriate.

  10. Thanks to everyone for your opinions and information. Some of this is getting very scientific 😉
    お腹をかかえて笑う sounds like a useful phrase to remember, Nathan – thanks!