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I Miss You! Posted by on Jun 4, 2018 in Grammar

Dear readers, there are so many grammatical topics that I want to cover that sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin! But let’s strike while the iron is hot and deal with another confusingly back to front concept: mancare = to miss/to be missing.

I miss the sea! Photo by Geoff.

If you’ve come to grips with the reverse thinking that is fundamental to understanding how piacere works, then mancare should be a breeze! Remember how in my series of blogs on piacere I wrote: “in Italian it’s not the person that does the liking, but the thing that pleases the person”? Well, exactly the same concept applies to mancare: “in Italian it’s not the person that does the missing, but the thing that is missing from the person”.

If you haven’t read my articles on piacere you can find them here:
Mi Piace! – Part 1.
Mi Piace! – Part 2.
Mi Piace! – Part 3.
Mi Piace! – Part 4

You’ll also need to know how to use indirect personal pronouns:
Italian Indirect Personal Pronouns

Let’s begin with the present tense conjugations of mancare:
io manco = I miss or I am missing
tu manchi = you miss or you are missing
lui/lei manca = he/she/it misses or he/she/it is missing
noi manchiamo = we miss or we are missing
voi mancate = you (plural) miss or you are missing
loro mancano = they miss or they are missing

Just as with piacere, the two conjugations that you’ll use most frequently are the third person singular (manca) and the third person plural (mancano).
Let’s jump straight into some examples that illustrate how it all works. Unfortunately, whereas with piacere we were able to use the intermediary translation ‘it pleases me/they please me’, there’s really no satisfactory way of translating mancare, so please bare with the ugly translations that I’ve included purely for illustrative purposes:

1. Do you miss England? If we turn that around we get the Italian equivalent: ‘Is England missing to you?’ (horrible, right?), which in Italian is Ti manca l’Inghilterra?
2. I miss my parents. Once again, we turn it around to get: ‘My parents are missing to me’. Hence: Mi mancano i miei genitori.
3. I miss you. Hence: You are missing to me. Hence: Mi manchi
4. We miss you (plural). Hence: You are missing to us. Hence: Ci mancate

To use mancare in the present perfect (passato prossimo) tense, you need to follow exactly the same rules as for piacere: Mi Piace! – Part 3.
1. He missed his dog whilst he was away. Hence: His dog was missing to him whilst he was away. Hence: Gli è mancato il cane mentre era via
2. They missed their daughters when they were on holiday. Hence: Their daughters were missing to them when they were on holiday. Hence: Gli sono mancate le figlie quando erano in vacanza.

Now try a few for yourselves:
Do you miss your friends? _______ i tuoi amici?
Does she miss Marco? _______ Marco?
I miss the sea _______ il mare
I missed Italy when I lived in England _______ l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra
I really missed you when you were away _______ molto quando eri via
Did you (plural) miss me? _______?

Check the comments section for the correct answers. And as usual, if you have any questions please leave a comment.

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Comments:

  1. Geoff:

    Here are the answers to those final sentences:

    Do you miss your friends? Ti mancano i tuoi amici?
    Does she miss Marco? Le manca Marco?
    I miss the sea. Mi manca il mare
    I missed Italy when I lived in England. Mi è mancata l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra
    I really missed you when you were away. Mi sei mancato/a molto quando eri via
    Did you (plural) miss me? Vi sono mancato/a?

    Geoff 🙂

    • Kiddina:

      @Geoff The correct translation for “I missed Italy when I lived in England. Mi è mancata l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra” is: Mi mancava l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra. It should be in the same verb tense.

      • Serena:

        @Kiddina Salve Kiddina!
        In certe situazioni in italiano possiamo usare sia l’imperfetto che il passato prossimo, dipende dalla sfumatura che gli vogliamo dare. L’imperfetto suggerisce la continuità dell’azione: “mi mancava l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra” significa che soffrivo tutto il tempo.
        “Mi è mancata l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra” vuol dire che guardo alla situazione dalla prospettiva di oggi, che non abito più in Inghilterra, ed esprimo un giudizio sul passato.
        Personalmente direi che l’uso del passato prossimo è il più comune, almeno nell’italiano parlato.
        Saluti da Serena

  2. Ishak Abdul Razak:

    Grazie per questa lezione

  3. Elizabeth:

    Mancare è sempre stato un problema per me – non più.
    Grazie, molto utile.

  4. Carolina:

    This is just perfect I am learning much better and faster and in a very happier way! Grazie tante amici!
    I will be in Italy the whole month of September and will practice todays lesson as soon as I embrace il mio amore Genaro, il cane piú bello nel mondo! Mi sei mancato immensamente Genaro mio!!!!!

    • Geoff:

      @Carolina Great to have such positive feedback Carolina. Which part of Italy will you be visiting?

      Geoff 🙂

  5. John:

    Mi piacciono molto i blog italiani. Mi piace la tua chiarezza, il tuo ritmo costante e il tuo dolce umore. Grazie mille.

    • Geoff:

      @John Grazie per il tuo gentile commento John!

      A presto, Geoff .-)

  6. Charmaine:

    Grazie mi piace moltissimo i tuoi blog, sono sempre divertente, interessante e rilevante.

  7. Vicki:

    Grazie molto!! Mi piace sempre il tuo Blog. 👍😊

  8. Yanina:

    Thank you very much for the article! But is it also correct to say like this:
    4. Mi mancava l’Italia quando abitavo in Inghilterra.
    5. Mi mancavi molto quando eri via.
    6. Vi mancavo?

    • Geoff:

      @Yanina That’s correct Yanina, I decided to focus on the passato prossimo in order not to over complicate an already confusing topic, but you can also use the imperfetto: mancavo, mancavi, mancava etc.

      Saluti da Geoff 🙂

  9. Chippy:

    At last I am able to return to your wonderful blogs but maybe not for long. I endorse everyone else’s comments. Serena’s explanation about the use of the P.P. instead of imperfect (also yours!) settled my initial doubts. Veramente, mi siete mancati! Grazie infinite!

  10. Dmitry:

    You write: “in Italian it’s not the person that does the missing, but the thing that is missing from the person” – and then several lines below:

    io manco = I miss or I am missing

    Shouldn’t it be “I am being missed”?

    • Geoff:

      @Dmitry Ciao Dmitry,

      The question is: ‘I am being missed’ by whom?
      If it was ‘I am being missed by them’ that’s the same as ‘they miss me’, which in Italian is gli manco. If it was ‘I am being missed by her’ it would be ‘she misses me’ = le manco, and if it was ‘I am being missed by him’ it would be ‘he misses me’ = gli manco.

      Think of another example: ‘there’s no salt’ can be expressed as manca il sale (the salt is missing), or ‘there are no gloves’ mancano i guanti (the gloves are missing).

      In reality, you’d very rarely use ‘io manco’. You might say manco dall’inghilterra da dieci anni (lit. I am missing from England for ten years) meaning ‘I haven’t been in England for ten years’, or in questa foto manco io = I’m missing from (not in) this photo.

      Personally, I think mancare is even more difficult to grasp than piacere mainly because there’s no satisfactory English translation.

      Saluti da Geoff 🙂

      • Dmitry:

        @Geoff Geoff, it is very simple. “Io manco” means “I am being missed” or “someone misses me”, NOT “I miss”

        • Geoff:

          @Dmitry Ciao Dmitry,

          My article deals with the second instance, i.e. ‘I am missing’, etc. as in the example that I already gave you: In questa foto manco io = I am missing from this photo.

          But manco also has the meaning of ‘to miss’ as in ‘I miss’, ‘you miss’ etc.
          Let me give you an example: Il mio amico Fabio è bravissimo con il fucile mentre io manco sempre il bersaglio, translation: My friend Fabio is really good with the rifle but I always miss the target.
          Here’s another: quando giochi a calcio, tu manchi sempre la porta. Translation: ‘when you play football you always miss the goal’

          Spero di essere stato chiaro, saluti da Geoff 🙂

  11. Dmitry:

    In your examples, “manca il sale” means “salt is missing”, but NOT “salt misses”, right?
    Then why do you write that
    io manco = I miss or I am missing
    tu manchi = you miss or you are missing

    • Dmitry:

      @Dmitry I see now where I was confused.
      Mancare means two things: to miss and to be missed…

  12. Arleen:

    I haven’t rec’d a post in my email since June 4th, so I tried to subscribe again, but after I enter my email address and click on subscribe the “wheel” just keeps spinning. I really miss getting your posts, hopefully this problem is resolved soon.

    Thanks

    • Geoff:

      @Arleen Okay, that’s strange. Let me know if the problem continues and I’ll contact our manager. In the meantime you can follow our blogs here: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/

      A presto Geoff 🙂

      • Arleen:

        @Geoff I tried again today, still the same problem using Firefox, Google Chrome and IE.

        Thanks

        • Geoff:

          @Arleen Ciao Arleen, I’ve sent you an e-mail.


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