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My dictionary translates 'magari' as 'maybe'. However, I know that it can be used as interjection to mean something like "I wish!". My question is, when it's used in a sentence like this:

Magari ci vediamo stasera

Is does this mean "maybe we'll see each other tonight" or does it mean "hopefully we'll see each other tonight"? Or is it somewhere between 'maybe' and 'hopefully'?

  • Magari - "if only it could be". – HLS Oct 16 '17 at 21:39
18

It means I wish when it is used as exclamation.

A: Vuoi che ti accompagni?
B: Magari!

It has that meaning in a sentence using the subjunctive mood too.

Magari potessi venire anche io al concerto!

Magari fosse vero che sono fidanzato con Veronica!

Magari non fosse venuta alla festa! Mi ha fatto litigare con la mia ragazza, che se ne è andata prima che potessi darle il regalo.

When used with the Simple Present and the Simple Past, it normally means maybe, possibly.

Magari non sapeva niente.

Magari non è stato avvisato in tempo.

Magari è solo in ritardo.

Notice that you could read Magari non c'ero! instead of Magari non ci fossi stato, but in both the cases it means "I wish I was not there." As in English, the subjunctive mood is often replaced from the indicative mood, at least colloquially.
In that case, the difference is made from the intonation.

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  • 2
    I changed your ‘eventually’ into ‘possibly’; watch out for false friends! ;-) – egreg Nov 7 '13 at 13:23
  • I am sorry I didn't approve your suggestion; I keep forgetting we still don't have the privilege of editing every post, and I thought you edited it when you wrote the comment, while you suggested an edit. – kiamlaluno Nov 7 '13 at 20:00
  • *"Magari non c'ero!" sounds to me as simply wrong --- I am Italian (La Spezia), and maybe could be used somewhere else, but I would plainly not understand it. – Rmano May 14 '14 at 16:15
  • I've never heard Magari non c'ero in my life and it sounds as absolutely wrong, unless you mean maybe I wasn't even there after someone yelled at you for doing something taking as a given that you were there, when you in fact weren't. – Formagella Jun 11 '15 at 21:30
  • Would you translate it in some cases as "hopefully" (like ojalá in spanish spanishdict.com/translate/ojal%C3%A1), and when? – bbozo Oct 4 '15 at 8:03
8

Wow, what an overloaded word! It has six different meanings or usages I can find.

As an adverb it may mean maybe (cf. “forse”)

A: Ci vediamo?

B: Magari sì.

but it can also mean even (cf. “persino”)

A: Ci vediamo?

B: Vengo assolutamente, magari a piedi!

As a conjunction it can similarly mean even if (cf. “persino se”)

Lo aspetterò, magari dovessi restare qui tutta la notte.

or, if only (cf. “se solamente”)

Eravamo soli, magari fossi venuto!

As an interjection it can either mean I can only wish…, but also I really want to! depending on context and/or emphasis.

The word comes from the Greek μακάρι (makári), which is derived from μακάριος (makários), according to etimo.it and it can be loosely translated as “God(s) willing!”

References

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5

It can mean both as you correctly say and it is open to interpretation, it's hard to answer your question out of a specific context. This phenomenon happens in other languages as well. Just know that it does have a double meaning and try to understand what's being said given your specific context.

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