Mica and Manco are two very popular words in spoken Italian. Let’s learn how to use them with common sentences. Listen to their correct pronunciation with our webcast.
Mica and Manco are very common expressions in spoken Italian, but not many teachers or textbooks will tell you how to use them. They are perhaps “too conversational”, not conventional, and sometimes difficult to explain. I’ll try to do that in a simple fashion.
The word mica, comes straight from the Latin for “breadcrumb”. The Latin origin is still reflected in some other Italian words. For example, I’m from Milan and the typical bread roll of my city is called “michetta”, “little crumb”. The original meaning of mica is now lost, the modern Italian term for breadcrumb is briciola.
The conversational Italian word mica then, roughly means “not even a breadcrumb”, close to the English “not one bit” or “not at all”. It’s used to intensify the negative meaning of a sentence. Let’s see some examples with the podcast:
- Mica male! – Not bad at all!
- Mica tanto – Not really.
- Mica pizza e fichi – Not pizza nor figs (something extraordinary)
- Non ho mica capito – I didn’t understand, not one bit
- Non sara mica successo qualcosa? I hope nothing (at all) has happened
- Hai mica una sigaretta? Do you happen to have a cigarette?
- Marco non mi piace mica tanto – I don’t like him, not one bit
- Non sono mica scemo – I’m not a fool, not at all
- Non ho mica fretta – I’m not in a hurry
- Io mica ci vado al concerto – I’m not going to the concert (not a chance)
Manco is simpler than Mica. It’s a conversational alternative to the word neanche (not even). We’ll see that Manco is used to build quite common conversational and idiomatic sentences. You will never find it on books or papers as a standard Italian word, but your Italian friends will use it, so will you. Let’s have a look at some examples, listen to the podcast.
- Manco a dirlo… – Needless to say …
- Manco a farlo apposta … – As if on purpose (lit. not even if I did that on purpose)
- Manco fosse il capo – As if he was the boss
- Non sa manco cosa fare – He doesn’t even know what to do
- Sono in ritardo, non ho manco fatto colazione – I’m late, I even hadn’t breakfast
- Manco li cani! – (sicilian) Not even dogs (would eat / look at / help you)
- Non è manco simpatico – He’s not even funny
- Manco a parlarne – Not even close (lit. not even talk about that)
- Manco per sogno – Not even in your dreams
- Non mi ha manco salutato – He even didn’t say hello
Even though Mica and Manco have different meanings, I chose to have them in the same topic for another reason. Both terms are used across the country but Mica is more common i northern/central Italy and Manco is used more often in southern Italy. If you travel and have a chance to go for a tour north to south, pay attention to what people say. I’m sure you will sooner or later hear Mica and Manco, and you will understand better how they are used in daily conversation. Any questions? Please let me know. Ciao!