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The Italian verb mancare

How to say “I miss you”: Italian grammar lesson 94

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To practice this grammar topic, take Lesson 94 of Ripeti Con Me!

Table of Contents

Missing someone or something

You probably experienced the feeling of missing someone or something many times in your life.

If you ever go to Italy and go back to your country, you’ll probably miss the food, weather, nightlife, coffee, and perhaps, your new Italian friends. So, you’ll need to be able to express this in Italian.

In today’s lesson, you’re going to learn how to say “I miss you”.

Have a look at the examples below and see if you notice something that’s different to English:

  • Tu mi manchi.
    I miss you.
  • Ti manca l’Italia?
    Do you miss Italy?
  • Ci mancano i nostri amici.
    We miss our friends.

I miss in Italia

English vs. Italian

In Italian, we use the verb mancare to say “to miss”, but it behaves differently to the English verb “to miss”, just like the verb piacere (to like) behaves in a different way to its English equivalent “to like”.

As you might have noticed in the examples above, this verb behaves backward. Let’s use the first sentence as an example to analyze.

  • Tu mi manchi.
    I miss you.

Basically, in Italian, the verb agrees with the subject (tu – you) and NOT with the indirect object pronoun (mi – I).

The subject of the sentence is who is missed, in this case, “tu”. The person who misses is the indirect object pronoun “mi”.

In English, the verb agrees with the subject too, but the subject is “I”, which in this case is the person who misses, unlike in Italian.

To miss in Italian

Mancare: conjugation

We’re now going to have a look at the conjugation of the verb mancare. As we already said, the structure is different, so don’t focus too much on the translation.

In fact, we’re going to use translations like “I’m missed (by X)”, but take it as if it said “(X) misses me”.

  • Io manco (I’m missed)
  • Tu manchi (You’re missed)
  • Lui/lei manca (He/She’s missed)
  • Noi manchiamo (We’re missed)
  • Voi mancate (You’re missed)
  • Loro mancano (They’re missed)

How to say I miss you Italian

Mi manchi

Tu manchi, which translates both as “you’re missed…” or “…miss you”, is an incomplete sentence. You need a complement to that.

In Italian, we need an indirect object pronoun. Let’s have a look at all of them:

  • mi: (by) me
  • ti: (by) you
  • gli/le: (by) him/ her
  • ci: (by) us
  • vi: (by) you
  • gli: (by) them

So you can complete the sentence by saying “tu mi manchi”, or just “mi manchi”, which translate as “you’re missed by me” = “I miss you”.

However, you don’t always need an indirect object pronoun. You might also find the name of someone. In this case, you’ll notice the presence of the word “a” which, in this case, means “by”.

Here is an example:

  • Manchi tanto a Maria.
    You’re missed a lot by Maria. = Maria misses you a lot.

Verb mancare explained

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Mancare: examples

Now that you (hopefully) understood the difference between English and Italian, it’ll be easier to understand the complete structure.

Let’s have a look at some examples. We’ll give you literal translations together with translations that make more sense.

  • Mi mancano i miei amici.
    My friends are missed by me. = I miss my friends.
  • Le manchi tanto.
    You’re missed a lot by her. = She misses you a lot.
  • Mi mancate tanto.
    You guys are missed a lot by me. = I miss you guys a lot.
  • Suo fratello le manca tantissimo.
    His brother is missed so much by him.  = He misses his brother so much.

In general, Italians are known for being passionate. We like to emphasize, so, as you can see in the examples above, you might find the following words right after the verb mancare: tanto (a lot), tantissimo (so much), and troppo (too much).

Also, you might find the subject before or after the verb.

How to say I miss you in Italian

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