Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Say, “I miss you…” with Mancare

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
1Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

Then one verb you will need to learn how to use is mancare (to miss). This is the verb Italians use when they have not been able to visit a loved one. Of course it is important to be able to tell those we care about that we miss them!

In this blog, we will discuss how to use the verb Italian mancare, which part of a group of Italian verbs that always take an indirect object pronoun and therefore “work” differently from your typical Italian verb.  

Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for this unique group of Italian verbs in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!.” We have also covered another verb of this type, servire (to need) in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important Italian verbs discussed that only take indirect object pronouns. Piacere, servire, and mancare all work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type.

Note: in our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take an indirect object pronoun when referring to a person. These verbs are in a different group than piacere, servire, and mancare, since they take a direct object pronoun when referring to things, but are a very important group to understand as well!

As I’ve said before, I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases”  when use the Italian verb mancare, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 49th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian verb
Mancare

See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Overview of Italian Verbs

that take

Indirect Object Pronouns

A short review of Italian verbs that take indirect object pronouns:

In our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take indirect object pronouns when referring to a person.

Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for verbs that always take indirect object pronouns, in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!”  We have also talked about another Italian verb that uses only indirect object pronouns, the verb servire (to need), in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important verbs that only take indirect object pronouns. All three of these verbs work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type with mancare. Full disclosure: there are other Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles, along with the three already mentioned! Below is a short list of the most important Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles.

Piacere

to like

Servire

to need

Mancare

to miss

Mancare

to miss

Mancare

to miss

Mancare

to miss

A short review of the Italian indirect object pronouns and their meanings:*

mi

to me

ti

to you (familiar)

Le

to you (polite)

le

to her

gli

to him

   

ci

to us

vi

to you all

gli

to them

*Of course, mi, ti, ci, and vi do double duty as direct object pronouns. Also, with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself, etc.

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How to Say, “I miss you!”

with Mancare

The Italian verb mancare has many meanings: to miss/to lose/to lack/to be lacking/to omit/to fail. Perhaps the most common way mancare is used is to convey the idea of “to miss someone,” so it is important to learn the conjugation and sentence structure for this verb for everyday conversation.

To start off, you should know that the sentence structure used for mancare is the same as for the verb piacere, the prototype for Italian verbs that only take an indirect object pronoun. You should also realize that this group of Italian verbs works differently from its English counterparts. Therefore, the English translation will not match the Italian word for word. The idea will remain the same, however.

In English, we say the subject of the sentence misses someone using the person who is missed as a direct object. Example: I (subject) miss (verb) John (direct object).

In Italian,  however, there are two significant differences from the English way of thinking.  Below are English and Italian sentence structures with examples that have identical meanings. We will change the Italian sentences into the most commonly used Italian structure with an indirect object pronoun step by step, in order to aid in understanding how both languages can say the same thing in a different way. For these examples, the English translation is given in the Italian way of thinking, and is in parentheses. Notice the color coding that follows throughout the examples: subject in brown, verb in green, direct object pronoun in blue, and indirect and stressed object pronouns in red.

First, let’s look at the English way of thinking. The subject is the person talking and the direct object is who they miss:  

English: [subject: person missing someone+ mancare conjugated to reflect subject + direct object: person missed]

              I         +     miss      +      John.

Now, let’s turn this English idea around to make an Italian sentence. To Italians, the person who is being missed is the subject of the sentence.  With this logic in mind, the person missing someone must be expressed by a stressed object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun. The sentence with a stressed object pronoun:

Italian:  [subject: person missed +  mancare conjugated to reflect subject + stressed object pronoun: person missing someone]

            Giovanni   +    manca    +    a me.
            
(John           is missing          to me.)

Although our Italian example above is grammatically correct, those conversing in Italian most commonly use an indirect object pronoun instead of the stressed pronoun,* and place the indirect object pronoun pronoun before the verb.

Italian:  [indirect object pronoun: person missing someone mancare conjugated to reflect subject + subject: person missed]

            Mi        +         manca      +    Giovanni.
            
(To me             is missing           John).

To make matters more confusing to the English speaker, the subject of the sentence — which in this case is Giovanni — can be left out entirely as long as the person who is being discussed is known from the context. But, in most cases the subject is then added to the end of the sentence for clarification.

*The stressed pronoun is handy to use for emphasis, as its name suggests.

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Below is the present tense conjugation of mancare. Notice that the tu and noi forms have irregular spelling to keep the hard “c” sound that we hear when we pronounce the infinitive verb. These are marked with an asterisk.

Mancare = To Be Missing (To)

io

manco

I am missing (to…)

tu

manchi*

you (fam.) are missing (to…)

Lei

lei/lui

manca

you (polite) are missing (to…)

she/he/it is missing (to…)

 

 

 

noi

manchiamo*

we are missing (to…)

voi

mancate

you all are missing (to…)

loro

mancano

they are missing (to…)

The sentences below give some common examples of how to use the verb mancare in the present tense. To aid the English speaker in understanding this Italian way of thinking, the Italian subject pronouns are included in parentheses. But remember that Italian subject pronouns are usually left out of a sentence, unless needed for clarification. Also, the word-for-word Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black.

If the idea behind how to use mancare seems too complicated at first, just memorize the first four examples, as you will likely use these the most!

Example Sentences with Mancare 

(Tu) Mi manchi.

(You are missing to me.)

I miss you.

(Lei/Lui) Mi manca.

(She/he is missing to me.)

I miss her/him.

 

(Io) Ti manco?

(Am I missing to you?)

(Do you) miss me?

(Lei/Lui) Ti manca?

(Is she/he missing to you?)

(Do you) miss her/him?

 

(Io) Gli manco.

(I am missing to him.)

He misses me.

(Io) Le manco.

(I am missing to her.)

She misses me.

(Tu) Gli manchi.

(You are missing to him.)

He misses you.

(Tu) Le manchi.

(You are missing to her.)

She misses you.

Gli manca (Maria).

(Maria is missing to him.)

He misses Maria.

Le manca (Maria).

(Maria is missing to her.)

She misses Maria.

Gli manca (Paolo).

(Paul is missing to him.)

He misses Paul.

Le manca (Paolo).

(Paul is missing to her.)

She misses Paul.

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Mancare is often used in the past tense. Consider the phrase “I missed you!” This implies that a definite period of absence has passed, and now the individuals are finally together and are able to talk about their feelings. The past tense of mancare is regular in the passato prossimo and takes essere. This is the past tense form for mancare that is most commonly used during conversation.

See below for the passato prossimo conjugation of mancare:

Singular forms: sono sei, è, + mancato(a)

Plural forms: siamo, siete sono + mancati(e)

The imperfetto form of mancare is regular as well, and is used most often for narration. Remember when telling a story about something that has happened without mentioning a specific period of time to use the imperfetto past tense.  If you need a refresher on when to use the passato prossimo and imperfetto, refer to our previous blogs about the Italian past tense.  In the case of mancare, the reference is often to a nonspecific amount of time that people missed each other in the past. 

See below for the imperfetto conjugation of mancare:

Singular forms: mancavo, mancavi, mancava

Plural forms: mancavamo, mancavate, mancavano

Find four common examples below of how to use the verb mancare, in past tense, with the passato prossimo. As in the examples for the present tense, the subject pronouns are included in parentheses, but remember that they are usually often left out of a sentence unless needed for clarification. Also, the direct Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black. How many more examples can you think of?

 

(Tu) Mi sei mancato(a).

(You were missing to me.)

I missed you.

(Lei/Lui) Mi è mancato(a).

(She/he was missing to me.)

I missed her/him.

 

(Io) Ti sono mancto(a)?

(Was I missing to you?)

(Did you) miss me?

(Lei/Lui) Ti è mancato(a)?

(Was she/he missing to her/him?)

(Did you) miss her/him?

Remember how to use the Italian verb
mancare in Italian
when missing someone dear to you!


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Our Italy — All Saints Day and All Souls Day in Italy

A bowl of minestrone soup with chick peas on a table cloth with pictures of fruit.

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! For 2020, I have changed the name of my series, “Your Italian Travel Tips,” to “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, knowing that one day we will all be able to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

Today I am happy to share a guest blog  about how the Halloween season is celebrated in Italy, written by Cinzia, a native Italian who was born and raised in Liguria. Although Cinzia loves to travel the world, her heart is in Italy, and she now teaches Italian for foreign students. I love Cinzia’s blog,  Instant Italy   for the lighthearted insights I find there about  Italian life and culture. Here is what Cinzia has to say about herself

My name is Cinzia and Italy is the place I call home.

Books feed my soul, music fills my days and travelling makes my life richer. I am a day dreamer, tireless walker and believer in the power of little things.

I’ve created Instantly Italy to take you to Italy with me and explore together this crazy but “oh so lovely” country.

I’m sure you will enjoy reading Cinzia’s blog about All Saints Day and the day to follow, All Souls Day, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Italy. Since my father passed away almost 5 years ago, I have come to realize the importance of a day like All Souls Day.  I want my children to remember the times they shared with their grandfather and other relatives who are no longer with us. Setting aside a special day to get together and reminisce about the past is one way to make sure we remember the times we cherished together as a family. After all, our connections to the past help to shape our future as well.

Today, I’m told, Italians celebrate the Halloween that we in America have popularized around the world with costumes, candy for the children,  and parties for the adults. Of course, this is all great fun and my children always celebrate Halloween on October 31st.  But I am glad to see that the Italian traditions for the days after Halloween are still followed in Italy, and the food traditions have remained intact.

I was especially happy to read in Cinzia’s blog that in Liguria they celebrate All Souls Day with a special chick pea soup, ceci con le costine, and plan to make this soup to for my Sunday “remembrance” dinner in November this year. Given the circumstances (i.e. given that it is still 2020), this soup will be a warming treat I can present in decorative jars and drop on a few doorsteps.  Along with some ossi di morti from a previous blog!

Enjoy the excerpt below from Cinzia’s blog, All Saints’ Day in Italy and click on the link to continue reading the full blog.  Check out my Instagram Conversationalitalian.french to watch the video when I cook my version of ceci con le costine and try it yourself if you like!

How do we celebrate All Saints’ Day, here in Italy? 

First of all, let me just tell you one thing: we do not celebrate Halloween. Ok, I should be more precise: we used not to celebrate Halloween in the past, we have been doing it only lately.

When I was a kid, I had absolutely no clue of what Halloween was, for me it was just a weird celebration you saw in certain American movies or TV series. To be honest, I would never have believed we would end up celebrating it over here too. Probably people just wanted one more reason to have fun and decided it was time to make Halloween a proper feast in Italy as well.

Nowadays, shops are being decorated with carved pumpkins and scary stuff, kids go around asking for sweets and candies – even if, instead of saying “trick or treat”, they scream “dolcetto o scherzetto?” – and adults throw costume parties as they have seen in many TV shows, but Halloween is still not as huge as in the United States, for example.

After all, Halloween does not belong to our tradition, it is just something we borrowed from other countries.

Here in Italy, we celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, on November 1st and November 2nd respectively. All Saints’ Day, Ognissanti in Italian, is the feast of all the Saints of the Catholic calendar and it is a public holiday, exactly like Christmas or Easter. We do not work nor go to school on that day.  All Souls’ Day is called Giorno dei Morti in Italian and it is the day when we remember those who have departed.  Click HERE to read more…

 

If you’d like,  leave a comment how you celebrate Halloween, and the traditions that are celebrated where you live.
I’d love to hear from you!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.