“Missing you” with mancare

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

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+ miss 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.



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…)


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.



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)

*There are situations in which the past participle of mancare takes avere. This will be covered in another blog!



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!

About Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for more than 10 years. She is the author of the “Conversational Italian for Travelers” series of books to teach adults Italian with the vocabulary they need to travel to Italy. She is very active on social media promoting Italian language and culture through her Facebook group Conversational Italian! as well on Twitter @travelitalian1. Links to audio for her Italian language dialogues and her blogs for beginning and intermediate Italian can be found at www.learntravelitalian.com.

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