ORA vs ORAMAI vs ORMAI – Meaning and use in Italian

Have you ever wondered about the difference among ORA, ORAMAI and ORMAI? Apparently, these words might seem similar, but don’t underestimate them: they are not synonyms! Watch our new lesson to learn how to use them and what they mean!


Let’s begin with the word ORA: this little word is a synonym of ADESSO and it is used to refer to something that is happening in this moment, the moment in which we are talking. 


È pronto il caffè? (Is the coffee ready?)

– Sì, lo sto versando proprio ora nella tazzina! (Yes, I’m pouring it right now in the cup!)

Be careful! If you are talking with an Italian person, especially from the south, you could hear a strange little word: MOThis weird word is often used as a synonym of ORA and ADESSO (obviously its use is limited to the spoken language).


– Accendi la TV? (Could you turn the TV on?)

– Ma proprio mo l’ho spenta! (But I’ve turned it off right now!)

Instead, how are ORMAI and ORAMAI used? Well, these two words are practically interchangeable, so they are synonyms and we can use them:

1.  With the meaning of A QUESTO (or A QUEL) PUNTO and, usually, they are associated with a sense of resignation and despondency for something irremediable/irreparable.

Oramai il treno è partito! (The train has left by now!)  (At this point, that is, now, in this moment, the train has already left, so the sense of resignation and despondency is caused by the necessity to wait for another train!)

But couldn’t we simply say “Ora il treno è partito”? Yes, we could, but in this case the sentence is more neutral and we wouldn’t have that sense of resignation and despondency expressed by ORAMAI or ORMAI.   

Let’s see another example:

Ormai è tardi per andare al cinema! (It’s too late to go to the cinema) (At this point, or now, the movies have probably begun, so the sense of resignation and despondency is caused by the impossibility to go the cinema and watch the movie!)

There is also a famous song by Vasco Rossi named “Ormai è tardi!”! If you enjoy Italian music, listen to it!

2.  ORMAI and ORAMAI can also take on the meaning of “quasi


– A che ora doveva venire Angela? (What time was Angela supposed to arrive?)

– Starà ormai per arrivare: mi ha detto al telefono che stava qui vicino!  (She should be almost here: she told me at the phone she was close!)

Now, why don’t you check out our lesson on the difference between ANZI and ANZICHÉ?

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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