How to use MAGARI: Italian grammar lesson 51

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I wish in italian

What does MAGARI mean?

Magari is probably one of the trickiest words to use for students of Italian. 

It is a very useful word and it can be use in a wide variety of contexts, so make sure you read all the way through if you want to sound like a native Italian speaker!

In this lesson we will not only look at what magari means, but also at how to use it correctly in different context.

Here are some examples of magari used in a sentence, so as to have a general idea of the contexts we’re going to explore in this lesson:

Cosa fate stasera?
No so, magari andremo al cinema.

What are you doing tonight?
I don’t know, we might go to the cinema.

Andrai al mare quest’estate?

Will you go to the seaside this summer?
I wish!

Magari potessi venire, mi piacerebbe molto.

I wish I could come, it would be great.

Magari scrivimi appena arrivi così non mi preoccupo, ok?

You could write to me once you get home, so I do not get worried, ok?

Magari as “maybe”

magari maybe italian

The main translation of magari into English is “maybe”. Of course, it can also be translated with a synonym of “maybe”, like “might, possibly, perhaps, etc.”

Let’s see some examples of this.

Magari dopo vado in palestra.

I might go to the gym later.

Dov’è Giacomo?
Non so, magari è uscito.

Where is Giacomo?
I do not know, maybe he went out.

Its use with this meaning is pretty straightforward, just replace forse (maybe) with it to express a possibility, and you’re all set.

Magari to express wishes

magari italian

On the other hand, magari can also be used with a completely different meaning: to express wishes (for something to happen) and sorrow (that something did not happen).

It is very similar to “I wish” in English.

In this case, you will use it on its own as an answer or reaction to something someone else said.

Have a look at the examples below and notice that nothing changes in the two contexts, the only thing that will change is the intonation you use.

Andiamo a teatro stasera?

Shall we go to the theatre tonight?
I wish!

Giuseppe ti ha regalato la sua vecchia bici alla fine?
Magari! No, alla fine me ne sono comprata una.

Did Giuseppe give you his old bike in the end?
I wish! No, in the end, I bought one.

If you use it to start a sentence to express a wish, magari must be followed by the subjunctive mood (congiuntivo). 

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In this case, it can translate as “I wish” or as “If only…”.

Magari mi chiamasse, andrei senza pensarci!

I wish she called me, I would go without even thinking about it!

Magari nevicasse! Potrei andare a sciare domani.

If only it would snow! I could go skiing tomorrow.

Magari to give advice / make suggestions

maybe in italian

Magari at the beginning of a sentence can also be used to give a suggestion or advice to someone.

In this case, it is followed by the imperative mood (imperativo) and it has the function of making it sound less like a command and more like a suggestion.

Have a look at the examples below:

Magari vai a fare la spesa prima che arrivi Fabrizia.

Maybe you could go shopping before Fabrizia arrives.

Non so, magari cerca di essere un po’ più comprensivo con lei.

I don’t know, maybe try to be more understanding with her.

Magari scrivimi quando arrivi, così non mi preoccupo.

You could write to me once you get there, so I do not worry.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!


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