Today we will delve into the study of a pair of commonly used Italian words: “Come mai”
By itself “Come”, stands to mean “How”,
Come stai? – How are you?
Come si dice in inglese? – How is it said in English? or How do you say it in English?
Come imparare l’italiano in due mesi – How to learn Italian in two months
You might have noticed that a verb is always needed after “Come” in the previous examples.
Furthermore, “Come” can be used to make an exclamatory observation.
Com‘è bella la luna! – How beautiful is the moon!
Come stai bene! – How good you look!
Com‘è facile! – How easy this is!
“Come” may be added in a sentence to emphasize how much you wish for something. For example, one could simply say:
Mi piacerebbe viaggiare, to mean, I would like to travel;
but when you say:
Come mi piacerebbe viaggiare!,
you are both reinforcing the message that you really like to travel and almost implicitly saying that you are, either in the current state or in an absolute way, unable to do so. Similarly to the way
How I wish i could travel or How I would like to travel,
can carry the same meaning of, sometimes, helplessness, in English.
“Come”, can also be used to mean “Like/As” when you are comparing something or indicating the presence of a similarity.
Mi piace come (piacerebbe) ad un bambino – I like it like a child would like it, or simply, I like it as a child would
È leggera come una piuma – She is as light as a feather
Mi sento come un cane – I feel like a dog
As you can see, “Come” is followed by an article and a noun instead in this case.
“Mai” is used to mean “Never”
Non mentire mai – Never lie
Mai arrendersi – Never give up
Yet, when “Come” and “Mai” are paired, they convey what would be translated in English as “I wonder how/Why/ How come it is that..”. This interrogative form is often used to inquire about an event or an action that is perceived unusual or maybe even fishy.
Come mai non me l’hai detto prima? – How come you haven’t told me earlier?
Come mai non guidi la tua macchina? – How come you don’t drive/are not driving your own car?
Come mai c’è un elefante nel frigo? – How come there’s an elephant in the refrigerator?
The following is the chorus from a song i absolutely love from 883, sang by Max Pezzali.
It revolves about a man who falls in love unexpectedly and can’t quite wrap his head around “Come Mai” this woman managed to make him spend “notte intere as aspettarti” while his previous philosophy was that it wasn’t worth the trouble to die of love.
Come mai/I Wonder why
Come mai, ma chi sarai / I wonder why, who are you (or also: How can it be, who could you be)
per fare questo a me / To do this to me
notti intere ad aspettarti / (I spend) whole nights awaiting you
ad aspettare te / waiting for you
Dimmi come mai, ma chi sarai / Tell me how come, who are you
per farmi stare qui / to make me stay here
qui seduto in una stanza / sited here in a room
pregando per un sì. / praying for a yes.
The chorus starts at o1:30, sing, learn and enjoy!