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Missing someone in Italian

There are some verbs that are hard to use in Italian because they work differently from in English in terms of subjects and objects (who does what to whom?).

 

We have talked about piacere (to like) where things are really turned around. See the lesson: I like it - Mi piace. Another verb that can cause a whole lot of confusion in a similar way is mancare. There is already a lesson about this verb, a verb that is used in various ways. But right now, let's look at the verb when we use it to say something like "I miss you," or "Do you miss me?" It is very tricky because it often involves pronouns, and we all know that distinguishing between subject and object pronouns isn't always so easy.

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In an episode of La Ladra, Lorenzo and Dante are talking about the fact that Dante misses Eva and Eva misses Dante. 

Nel senso che anche [a] te manca mia madre? Mi sa che manchi anche a lei, eh.

Because you miss my mother, as well? I think she misses you, too, huh.

Captions 10-11, La Ladra Ep.12 Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 10

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Let's put things in order here.

In English "to miss" is a transitive verb, and the definition we are talking about here is not even the first one. In WordReference, it is number 6!

to regret the absence or loss of:
[~ + object] I miss you all dreadfully.
[~ + verb-ing] He missed watching the African sunsets.

In Italian, we have to think of things a bit differently. The definition of mancare is "to be lacking in" or "to be missing." So we're close.

But in Italian, the verb mancare has to agree with the person who is being missed.  Weird, right?

So if I am feeling your absence, I miss you. You are missing from my life.

Expressed in Italian,

Sento la tua mancanza. Mi manchi. (I feel your absence. You are missing from my life right now!)

 

Let's look at some practical examples. Keep in mind that in this context, mancare is intransitive, so we need a preposition before the person who is feeling the absence. When we use the name of a person, we need to add the preposition a (to), but the tricky thing is that when we're using pronouns, the preposition is often included in the indirect pronoun. Mi = a me (to me), Ti = a te (to you).

 

Giovanni sente molto la mancanza di Anna. Lei sta studiando all'estero (Giovanni feels the absence of Anna. She is studying abroad). (She is missing from his life.)

A Giovanni manca Anna. Gli manca (Giovanni misses Anna. He misses her [he feels her absence]).

Gli stands for a lui (to him).

 

Non ti vedo da una vita. Mi manchi. (I haven't seen you in a long time. I miss you). (You are missing from my life)

 

Mi manca andare in ufficio tutti it giorni (I miss going to the office every day). (It's missing from my life.)

 

Now here, in the next example, who is being missed is in the plural: Parents. So the verb mancare is in the plural, too.

 

I miei genitori stanno a Roma. Io sto a Bologna. Mi mancano i miei genitori (My parents live in Rome. I live in Bologna. I miss my parents). (They are missing from my life.)

 

Ti mancano i tuoi genitori? So che stanno a New York (Do you miss your parents? I know they live in New York). (Are they missng from your life?)

 

You have to turn your mind around a bit to nail this, but with time and practice, you'll get it. And it's not something you want to get wrong. 

 

Here are some Yabla video examples of people using mancare when they miss someone or something. 

 

In this example, a woman is talking to her ex-husband about her new partner. She still misses her ex-husband and is telling him so.

 

 

A volte con Carlo è difficile, ma non riesco a lasciarlo. Anche se a volte mi manchi da morire.

Sometimes, Carlo is difficult, but I can't manage to leave him. Even if sometimes I miss you to death [like crazy].

Captions 6-8, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 15

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To be clearer, she could have said, Anche se a volte tu mi manchi da morire.

 

In this example, Manara is trying to get used to living in Tuscany, as opposed to Milan.

Qui da Lei sto benissimo, eh. -Ah, ah. -Però mi manca la città, il traffico, il rumore, capisci?

At your place, I'm really fine, you know. -Ah, ah. -But I miss the city, the traffic, the noise, you understand?

Captions 38-39, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 1

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Here's an example where someone is being interviewed. The question is formal, but the answer is very colloquial.

Capisco. Quindi adesso il suo amico Le manca? -E cazzo se mi manca, sì, sì.

I understand. So, now you miss your friend? -Sure as shit, I miss him, yes, yes.

Captions 39-40, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 16

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Here's an example where you really need to turn your mind around. Gli manco. I am missing from his (Luca's) life. He misses me.

Con Luca tutto bene? -Non vede l'ora di tornare. Gli manco.

Everything all right with Luca? -He can't wait to come back. He misses me.

Captions 33-34, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 10

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When we go into the passato prossimo (present perfect tense structure), it's important to remember that in this context, we need the auxiliary verb essere (to be), not avere (to have).

Amore, quanto mi sei mancato! -Sono tornato, ma non è cambiato niente.

Love, I've missed you so much! -I'm back, but nothing has changed.

Captions 49-50, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 10

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1) In this case, Eva is talking to her son, but what if she had been talking to her daughter?

2/3) Can you turn the first part into a question? You are asking the person if they missed you. Are you a male or a female? The ending of the past participle will change accordingly.

 

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Practice:

Think about all the people you miss, the people you can't get together with. A single person? An animal? A city? A country? Mancare will be in the third person singular. If it's parents, friends, animals, then it will be in the third person plural.

If you are writing to a couple, your parents, then you will want to conjugate mancare in the second person plural (mancate).

 

If someone misses you, then you are the one who gets conjugated. You are missing from someone's life. 

 

There are other ways to use the verb mancare, as you'll see if you look it up or do a Yabla search, but in this lesson, we wanted to isolate a particular situation. It's the trickiest one.

 

If you have trouble, let us know and we'll help. You'll want to get this right.

 

Extra credit:

1) Amore, quanto mi sei mancata! -Sono tornata, ma non è cambiato niente.

2) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancato?

3) Amore, [quanto] ti sono mancata?

 

 

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