Italian Language Blog

Mancare Posted by on Apr 19, 2011 in Grammar

The Italian verb mancare means ‘to be lacking in’ or ‘to be missing’. It is an important and useful verb which is well worth studying because we use it a lot in everyday conversation.

1. ‘to miss’ someone or something’ is expressed in the following way in Italian:

mi manca la mia famiglia – I miss my family (literally: my family is missing for me)

mi mancano i giorni caldi dell’estate – I miss the hot summer days (literally: the hot summer days are missing for me)

non ti manca l’Inghilterra? – don’t you miss England? (literally: isn’t England missing for you?)

ti mancano i tuoi? – do you miss your parents? (literally: aren’t your parents missing for you?)

mi manchi – I miss you (literally: you are missing for me)

2. ‘to miss’ as in miss a target or goal is expressed in the following way in Italian:

ha mancato la rete – he missed the goal

ho mancato il bersaglio per un pelo – I missed the target by a hair

other common uses of mancare:

quanto manca alla partenza? – how long before we leave? (literally: how much time is lacking before the departure?)

mancano dieci minuti – there are ten minutes left (literally: ten minutes are lacking)

che ore sono? …. mancano cinque minuti alle dieci – what time is it? …. it’s five to ten (literally: five minutes are lacking before ten)

mi mancano le chiavi – I haven’t got my keys with me (literally: my keys are lacking to me)

ci manca il latte – we haven’t got any milk left (literally: the milk is lacking to us)

è mancata la corrente – there was a power failure (literally: the current was lacking)

oggi mi manca la voglia di pulire la casa – I don’t have the will to clean the house today (literally: today the will to clean the house is lacking for me)

alla riunione mancava solo Giovanni – only Giovanni wasn’t at the meeting (literally: at the meeting there was missing only Giovanni)

we also use the word mancanza to express a lack, absence or shortage of someone/thing:

sento la sua mancanza – I miss him (literally: I feel his absence)

ha dimostrato una mancanza di tatto – he showed a lack of tact

durante la guerra c’era sempre una mancanza di cibo – there was always a lack of food during the war

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  1. Don Pines:

    Very informative, grazie

  2. Joan Engelhaupt:

    I’m so glad you explained this, Serena, because about a month ago the Word of the Day used an example that translated into English something like, “Good-bye, Mother. I’ll miss you,” but grammatically, it certainly looked like “You’ll miss me” to me. I asked my Italian teacher about it in great confusion, and she explained pretty much as you did about “mancare”.

  3. Ruth Neeman:

    Molto utile, Grazie!!!

  4. Lesley Brennan:

    I love your blog, Serena and you have been so helpful in my understanding of la parola “mancare”, Tante grazie

  5. David T:

    Thanks so much – I never noticed that mancare is used very much like piacere (is missing for me vs. is pleasing to me). Thanks for clearing that up.

  6. Jody:

    Would you use mancare to say. What did I miss in the class yesterday.
    Hope you can help here.

    • Serena:

      @Jody Salve Jody!
      No, you can’t use ‘mancare’ in this case. If you missed a lesson, a film, part of a conversion, etc. we use ‘perdere’ or better ‘perdersi’, e.g. “che cosa mi sono perso/a ieri alla lezione?” (what did I miss in the class yesterday?)
      Va bene?
      Saluti da Serena

  7. roberto:

    very helpful! Okay, off topic but the example “mi manca la mia famiglia” has the article “la” which I thought was dropped when using family and its members?

    • Serena:

      @roberto Salve Roberto!
      L’articolo determinativo (il, lo, la) si usa solamente davanti ai membri più stretti della famiglia, nella forma singolare. Perciò è giusto dire ‘la mia famiglia’ perché non è una persona!
      Saluti da Serena

  8. T. F.:

    Is ‘mancare’ conjugated with both ‘essere’ for personal meaning as well as with ‘avere’ for for non-personall reference?

    • Geoff:

      @T. F. Ciao TF, firstly, there’s a newer blog on mancare that you may find useful:
      As for the use of essere vs avere: mancare can mean both ‘to miss’ as in ‘I miss you’ (mi manchi), and I’ve missed the target (ho mancato il bersaglio). Mostly though, you’ll use mancare to say that you miss someone or something rather than a target.
      If you study my articles on piacere it will help you enormously with the concept of mancare. You can find my piacere articles by following the link that I’ve given you above.

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

  9. mamad:

    He misses his family
    has been translated to “Gli manca la sua famiglia ” why it is not “Lo manca la sua famiglia”

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