Difficult words: magari

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Today we see together an Italian word of difficult translation into other languages.

One of the significant problems, when studying a foreign language, is to want to translate the word or expression in your mother tongue at all costs.

The advice I usually give to my students is precisely not to try to translate, but to understand the meaning of the word by understanding the concept, the essence, the use.

The word we will analyze today is MAGARI.
How many times have you read it or listened to it?
The word perhaps comes from the Greek Makarios which means blessed, happy.

In Italian we can find it in different types of sentences:

  • An exclamation is expressing regret, a desire that cannot be fulfilled.

A: Giovanni mi hanno detto che hai vinto la lotteria…
Giovanni told me you won the lottery
B: Magari!  (= “mi piacerebbe avere vinto la lotteria ma purtroppo non è successo”)
Magari! (= “I’d like to have won the lottery, but unfortunately it didn’t happen”)

A: Marco, è vero che l’anno prossimo andrai a vivere in Australia?
A: Marco, is it true that next year you will live in Australia?
B: Magari! (= “sarebbe bello ma non è vero”)
B: Magari! (= “Would be nice but not true”)

  • With the function of desire, hope, wish.

A: Sono sicuro che l’esame di italiano andrà bene!
A: I’m sure the Italian exam will be excellent!
B: Magari! (= “mi piacerebbe, speriamo che sia così”)
B: Magari! (= “I would like, we hope so”)

Magari potessi vincere la lotteria!  (= “mi piacerebbe, sarebbe meraviglioso vincere la lotteria”)
Magari I could win the lottery! (= “I would like, it would be wonderful to win the lottery”)

Magari potessi comprare una Ferrari!  (=”mi piacerebbe, sarebbe fantastico comprare una Ferrari”)
Magari I could buy a Ferrari! (= “I would like, it would be great to buy a Ferrari”)

(Attention: as you can see in sentences like these, the verb after the word may always be the congiuntivo imperfetto)

  • With the meaning of perhaps, probably, possibly.

A: Vuoi venire al cinema stasera?
A: Do you want to come to the cinema tonight?
B: Non lo so, ho molto lavoro. Magari ti raggiungo quando esco dall’ufficio
B: I don’t know, I have much work. Maybe I’ll join you when I leave the office.

A: È tutto il giorno che provo a chiamare Sara e non mi risponde!
A: I have been trying to call Sara all day, and she doesn’t answer me!
B: Magari sta lavorando.
B: Maybe he’s working.

Ci mangiamo una pizza e magari dopo andiamo a ballare.
We eat pizza and maybe we’ll go dancing afterward.