“I Miss You”: Italian Grammar Lesson

Lesson 94

Key Takeaways

Discover how to express “I miss you” in Italian and understand the unique syntactic structure of the verb mancare.

  • The verb mancare requires an indirect object pronoun to indicate who is missing someone.
  • In Italian, the subject of the sentence is the entity missed, and the indirect object is the person who misses.
  • Conjugation of mancare changes based on the entity missed, e.g., mi manchi (I miss you).
  • Mancare can also indicate the absence of items, pieces, or even time and distance remaining.
  • Italians often use words like tanto (a lot) to emphasize the feeling of missing someone.

Quick facts

How does the verb "mancare" in Italian differ syntactically from "to miss" in English?

Unlike English, "mancare" structures the missed entity as the subject and the person missing as the indirect object, requiring an indirect pronoun or preposition "a."

What is the literal translation of "Tu mi manchi"?

The literal translation is "You are missed by me," which means "I miss you."

Why are Italian personal pronouns often omitted in sentences like "Mi manchi"?

Italian personal pronouns are not mandatory because verb conjugations already indicate the subject, making "Mi manchi" sufficient to mean "I miss you."

How do you say "We miss our friends" using "mancare"?

"Ci mancano i nostri amici," where "ci" is the indirect object pronoun for "us" and "i nostri amici" is the subject.

How do you express missing an item from somewhere in Italian?

Use "mancare" as in "Manca un bottone dalla camicia," meaning "A button is missing from the shirt."

Can "mancare" be used for estimating remaining time or distance?

Yes, "Mancano venti chilometri" means "Twenty kilometers to go," and "Quanto manca?" asks "How much longer?"

What does "Mi mancano venti pagine" mean in the context of reading?

"I'm missing twenty pages," indicating the speaker hasn't read twenty pages yet.

How is "mancare" used to indicate the absence of a person?

"Ci siamo quasi tutti. Manca solo Filippo" means "We're almost all here. Only Filippo is missing."

What are common emphatic words used with "mancare"?

Italians often use "tanto," "tantissimo," and "troppo" to emphasize missing someone a lot, so much, or too much.

How does the verb "mancare" cover different types of absence?

"Mancare" can express emotional absence, physical absence, and quantitative deficiencies, showing its versatility in Italian.

Audio images

Mi manchi tantissimo.
Mi manchi tantissimo.
Mi manchi tantissimo, amore mio.




Mi manchi.

I miss you.

Ti penso sempre.

I always think of you.

Non vedo l'ora di rivederti.

I can't wait to see you again.

Sei nei miei pensieri.

You are in my thoughts.

Sento la tua mancanza.

I feel your absence.

My Thoughts

“I Miss You” in Italian

If you ever go to Italy and go back to your country, you’ll probably miss the food, weather, nightlife, coffee, and perhaps, your new Italian friends.

Today, you will learn how to express this feeling in Italian. Have a look at the examples below and see if you notice something different from English:

Tu mi manchi.

I miss you.

Ti manca l’Italia?

Do you miss Italy?

Ci mancano i nostri amici.

We miss our friends.

Yes! The very first thing you have to keep in mind when learning the verb mancare is that its syntactical structure is very different from English.

Let me show you what this means and what grammatical consequences is has on its use.

Mi manchi tantissimo.

How to say “I Miss You” in Italian

The Difference Between English and Italian

The verb “to miss” translates to “mancare” in Italian, but its structure is very different. This syntactic behavior is just like the one you see in the verbs “piacere” (to like) and “servire” (to need).

In English, the person who likes, needs, or misses someone or something is the subject of the sentence, and the liked, needed, or missed object or person is the direct object of the sentence.

In Italian it is the opposite: when expressing the feeling of missing, liking, or needing someone or something, the verb is conjugated with the entity that is missed, liked, or needed and the indirect object represents the person who misses, likes, or needs.

This means that you need either an indirect pronoun or the preposition “a” to introduce the object. Let’s use the first sentence as an example to analyze.

Tu mi manchi.

I miss you.

As you can see, the subject of the sentence is the person that is missed, in this case, tu(you), and the person who misses is the indirect object pronoun mi(to me).

Conjugation of Mancare

Let me now show you the conjugation of the verb mancare. As we already said, the structure is different, in fact if you literally translate the Italian conjugation you will obtain the following meanings:

  • Io manco (I’m missed)
  • Tu manchi (You’re missed)
  • Lui/lei manca (He/She’s missed)
  • Noi manchiamo (We’re missed)
  • Voi mancate (You’re missed)
  • Loro mancano (They’re missed)
Mi manchi tantissimo.

How to Say “I Miss You” in Italian

As mentioned, if you want to say that you miss someone in Italian, you need an indirect object pronoun. Let’s have a look at all of them:

  • mi /  a me : (lit.) to me
  • ti / a te: (lit.) to you
  • gli-le / a lui-a lei: (lit.) to him/to her
  • ci / a noi: (lit.) to us
  • vi / a voi : (lit.) to you
  • gli / a loro: (lit.) to them

Also, you already know that Italian personal pronouns (subjects) are not mandatory, so you either say tu mi manchi or just mi manchi, which can roughly be translates as “you’re missed by me”, that is “I miss you”.

Remember! If you want to use someone’s name you need the preposition “a”.

Here is an example:

Manchi tanto a Maria.

You’re missed a lot by Maria. = Maria misses you a lot.

Mi manchi tantissimo, amore mio.

How Do I Use “Mancare”?

Basic Expression

You can use the verb “mancare” with the basic meaning of missing someone.

Mi mancano i miei amici.

My friends are missed by me. = I miss my friends.

Ti manca l’Italia?

Do you miss Italy?

In the last sentence, ti manca uses the indirect object pronoun “ti” (to you) and “l’Italia” is the subject, indicating what is being missed.

Absence of an Item

You can also use the verb “mancare” to indicate that something is missing from somewhere.

Manca un bottone dalla camicia.

A button is missing from the shirt.

Here, “manca” refers directly to the button being absent, with “un bottone” as the subject.

Missing Pieces or Parts in Context

-Hai finito il puzzle? -Manca un pezzo.

-Did you finish the puzzle? -A piece is missing.

“Manca un pezzo” states the piece as the subject that is missing. As you can see, here there is no need for an indirect pronoun because you are just stating that something is missing, in general.

-Hai letto il libro? -Mi mancano venti pagine.

-Did you read the book? -I’m missing twenty pages.

“Mi mancano” refers to the pages (plural) that are absent or yet to be read, and using “mi” indicates that the speaker is the one experiencing the absence.

Estimating Time or Distance

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Just like you can be missing an item, you can be missing amounts, namely time or distance that are remaining.

-Quanto manca? -Tra mezz’ora arriviamo.

-How much longer? -We’ll be there in half an hour.

Mancano venti chilometri.

Twenty kilometers to go.

These examples use “mancare” to estimate time or distance remaining. The verb adapts to plural forms when referring to multiple units (like kilometers).

Absence in Various Contexts

Manca la corrente!

The power is out!

Ci siamo quasi tutti. Manca solo Filippo.

We’re almost all here. Only Filippo is missing.

In these sentences, “manca” denotes the absence of electricity and a person, respectively, showing the flexibility of “mancare” in indicating what is lacking.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Did You Miss Anything?

Now that you understood the difference between English and Italian, it’ll be easier to understand the use of this versatile verb in Italian. In fact, the verb “mancare” in Italian can cover emotional absence, physical absence, and quantitative deficiencies.

Also know that, since Italians are known for being passionate, we like to emphasize, so you might find the following words right after the verb mancare:

  • tanto (a lot)
  • tantissimo (so much)
  • troppo (too much)

When we miss someone, we miss them a lot!

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


What is the verb to miss someone in Italian?

Learning the phrase "mi manchi" in Italian is highly recommended as it means I miss you. This expression is unique as it uses the verb "mancare" which is not commonly used in other conjugations or tenses.

What is "mi manchi molto"?

The phrase "mi manchi molto" in Italian translates to I miss you so much in English.

Italian word of the day
Dalla crisi, molte aziende hanno chiuso.
Because of the financial crisis, many companies shut down.
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