The first translation of ancora, the one many of us know, is “again.”
This certainly applies to the title of a Gabriele Muccino film, whose trailer is on Yabla.
Official trailer: Kiss Me Again
It also applies to the title song:
Baciami ancora, baciami ancora
Kiss me again, kiss me again
Caption 13, Lorenzo Jovanotti - Baciami ancoraPlay Caption
In fact, quite often, ancora does mean “again.”
Arrivederci. -Ci scusi ancora.
Good bye. -Again, please excuse us.Play Caption
But Italians also use ancora to mean “still.”
Scusatelo, eh, però è ancora sconvolto per quello che è successo.
Excuse him, uh, but he's still in shock for what happened.Play Caption
The above example could just as well have been:
Scusatelo, però è sempre sconvolto per quello che è successo.
Excuse him, but he's still in shock for what happened.
Juggling these words can take a bit of getting used to!
When there is the negative non before it, ancora means “yet,” as in “not yet.”
Allora? Come è andata? Non lo so ancora.
So? How did it go? I don't know yet.
Captions 56-57, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 11Play Caption
Still another way to use ancora is to reinforce the adverbs più (more) or meno (less). The English equivalent in this case would be “even” or "still."
Gli anni Cinquanta che, a pensarci, sembrano ancora più lontani.
The fifties which, if you think about it, seem even more remote.Play Caption
When più is by itself rather than modifying another word, it will be preceded by di (of) as in the following example. In this case it also means "even more so."
Mi piace questo vestito, ma quello mi piace ancora di più.
I like this dress, but I like that one even more so.
And lastly, ancora can also mean simply “more.”
When someone is putting sugar in your coffee, you can say ancora, to mean “more” or “keep going!”
Ancora qualche erbetta sulla nostra carne.
A few more herbs on our meat.
Caption 42, Battuta di Fassone - in Insalata ChefPlay Caption
You may have learned that più means "more," and that’s true, but ancora can often replace it.
Sto facendo pressione sul presidente, ma mi serve ancora un po' di tempo.
I'm putting pressure on the president, but I need a bit more time.
Caption 36, La Tempesta - film - Part 14Play Caption
To use più in the preceding example, we just have to change the word order, like this:
...mi serve un po' piu di tempo.
...I need a bit more time.
Even in English, there is a close connection between “more” and “again.” It’s up to us to keep our eyes and ears open to gradually get a feel for the Italian perspective on the word. Thinking back on the first examples about kissing, the person could have either been saying “kiss me again” or “kiss me some more,” which has a slightly more emotional and intense feeling about it. Context and tone are key!
In a nutshell:
Ancora is used to mean:
yet (preceded by non)
even (followed by più or meno plus an adjective or adverb)
more so (ancora di più)