In this week’s episode of La Ladra, one word comes up in three different instances, that is used constantly in conversation, but rarely in “proper” writing.
In modern Italian, it is most often used as an adverb synonymous with affatto (at all) or perniente (at all).
Non sarà mica facile, eh, per delle dilettanti come noi.
It won't be at all easy, uh, for dilettantes like us.
Caption 10, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le sposePlay Caption
In the previous example, mica could be replaced by affatto or per niente. But mica is much more informal.
Non sarà affatto facile, eh, per delle dilettanti come noi.
It comes from “mica,” the Latin noun for “crumb,” so it has to do with something tiny, and of little importance.
The people from una parola al giorno (a word a day) explain mica nicely:
Parola che come avverbio scivola continuamente nei nostri discorsi a rafforzare le nostrenegazioni (a word that slips, repeatedly, into our conversations and reinforces our negations):
non è mica male (it’s not bad at all)
non mi scoccia mica (it doesn’t put me out at all, it’s no hassle at all)
non è mica uno scherzo (it’s no laughing matter)
To read what else they have to say, see: https://unaparolaalgiorno.it/significato/mica. It’s a great site for learning new words.
As we have seen above, mica is generally used with a negation, but this is often merely implied, as in the following examples. At the same time, it can have the connotation of “by any chance” and/or have the same role as question tags in English.
Mica hai una penna da prestarmi (you wouldn’t happen to have a pen to lend me, would you)?
Ma... mica vorrai aprirlo con questa? -Ci proviamo.
But... you're not thinking of opening it with this, are you? -We'll try it.
Caption 9, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le sposePlay Caption
Mica ce l'hai con me?
You don't happen to be mad at me, do you?
You’re not mad at me, are you?Play Caption
Mica l’ho fatto apposta!
I didn’t do it on purpose!
It's not as if I did it on purpose!
Mica is a rather fun word to use. It’s a way of expressing a negation without coming right out and saying it, or reinforcing a negative you are indeed saying. And the more you use it, the more it will slip into your conversation, and the more genuine your Italian will sound.
Yabla... mica male!