How to use “man mano che”: Italian grammar lesson

Lesson 238

Key Takeaways

Readers will learn how to use the Italian expression man mano che to link clauses and indicate gradual progression.

  • A mano a mano means little by little or gradually.
  • Man mano che is used to link two clauses and show that one action happens as another is taking place.
  • It can be translated as as or while in English.
  • Examples include: Mescolate man mano che aggiungete il latte (Stir as you add the milk).
  • The expression is often shortened for ease and speed in conversation.

Quick facts

What does "a mano a mano" signify in Italian?

"A mano a mano" means "little by little," indicating gradual change.

How does "a mano a mano" relate to "man mano che"?

Both expressions relate to gradual progression, with "man mano che" linking two events.

Why is "man mano che" used instead of "mano a mano che"?

"Man mano che" is shorter and quicker to say, reflecting conversational efficiency.

Can "a mano a mano" be used without the initial "a"?

Yes, it can be simplified to "mano a mano" for ease and brevity.

What type of actions does "man mano che" typically describe?

It describes actions happening concurrently, such as changes occurring as another event progresses.

How would you translate "Man mano che s’avvicinava l’inverno gli alberi si facevano più spogli"?

"As winter was coming in, trees were becoming more and more leafless."

Why might Italians prefer using shorter expressions like "man mano che"?

Shorter expressions are quicker to say and reflect linguistic efficiency and convenience in conversation.

Provide an example of "man mano che" in a sentence.

"La personalità si sviluppa man mano che cresciamo," meaning "Personality develops as we grow older."

How does "a mano a mano" enrich the meaning of gradual change in Italian?

It emphasizes incremental progress, adding depth to the portrayal of change over time.

Why is understanding expressions like "man mano che" important in learning Italian?

They reflect common usage and nuances in linking actions, enhancing conversational fluency and comprehension.

Audio images

Man mano che studi, imparerai nuove parole.
Man mano che studi, impari cose nuove.
Man mano che impari, ti senti più sicuro.




Man mano che studi, impari nuove cose.

As you study, you learn new things.

Man mano che passava il tempo, diventava più sicuro di sé.

As time went by, he became more confident.

Man mano che migliorava il tempo, uscivamo più spesso.

As the weather improved, we went out more often.

Man mano che cresce, diventa più responsabile.

As she grows up, she becomes more responsible.

Man mano che leggi il libro, la storia diventa più interessante.

As you read the book, the story becomes more interesting.

My Thoughts

What is a mano a mano in Italian?

To get in the mood for today’s post, listen to this song: A mano a mano written by Riccardo Cocciante and sung by Rino Gaetano.

Focus on this part of the lyrics:

A mano a mano ti accorgi che il vento
Ti soffia sul viso e ti ruba un sorriso

E a mano a mano si scioglie nel pianto
Quel dolce ricordo sbiadito dal tempo
Di quando vivevi con me in una stanza

E a mano a mano mi perdi e ti perdo
E a mano a mano vedrai con il tempo

Lì sopra il suo viso lo stesso sorriso

Here’s the translation:

Little by little you realize that the wind
Blows on your face and steals a smile from you
Little by little crying melts
That sweet memory, faded by time
From when you lived with me in a room
And little by little you lose me and I lose you
And little by little you’ll see, over time,
On your face the same smile

As you can see, there’s a recurring expression: a mano a mano. You probably guessed by looking at the lyrics that it means little by little.

In today’s post, we’re going to focus on an expression that comes from that expression: man mano che.

Man mano che studi, imparerai nuove parole.

What does man mano che mean in Italian?

To understand what man mano che means, we have to focus on a mano a mano little by little. In other words, it means gradually.

Here’s an example:

A mano a mano la faccenda si faceva più interessante.

Little by little the matter was getting more interesting.

We could even say mano a mano without the first a because it’s easier and shorter.

Now that you understand this, it’ll be easier for you to understand why and when we say man mano che.

We use this expression when we want to link two different clauses and indicate that something happens when something else is taking place, as you can see below:

Man mano che s’avvicinava l’inverno gli alberi si facevano più spogli.

As winter was coming in, trees were becoming more and more leafless.

As you can see, we translated man mano che with a simple as. It could also be translated as while.

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

As you can see, both a mano a mano and man mano che carry a slightly similar meaning which is related to time.

You might be wondering why we say man mano che instead of mano a mano che.

Well, once again, it’s just because it’s shorter and faster.

We’re lazy, right?

Man mano che studi, impari cose nuove.

Man mano che: examples

Let’s now have a look at some examples:

Mescolate man mano che aggiungete il latte.

Stir as you add the milk.

La personalità si sviluppa man mano che cresciamo.

Personality develops as we grow older.

Questa attività diventa sempre più difficile man mano che andiamo avanti.

This activity gets harder and harder as we go on.

Man mano che i giorni passano, capisco meglio le cose.

As days pass by, I understand things better.

Man mano che invecchia si dimentica sempre più le cose.

As he gets older, he forgets things more and more.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


What is "a mano a mano"?

It means little by little but can also mean gradually.

What is "man mano che"?

It's an expression that comes from "a mano a mano" and means as or while.

When do we use "man mano che"?

To link two different clauses and indicate that something happens during the time when something else is taking place.

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

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free courses and other resources.

2 Responses

  1. Lesson 238 Man mano che

    Given mano a mano can mean ‘little by little, then it seems you might also be able to use ‘piano piano’, correct, or, is piano piano closer to ‘gradually’ rather than man mano che being more like ‘as’, or, ‘while’ (like mentre) ?

    1. Ciao!

      In Italian, piano piano means slowly while mano a mano means progressively.

Leave a Reply

Try my courses for free​
Social signup
How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.