How to use correctly the adverbs già and ancora?

Let’s start from giàwhich has two different meanings.

GIÀ= ALREADY

The most common use of già is when is used with the sense of already. 

In the vast majority of times, già  comes together with a passato prossimo, just like in English and is always placed between the auxiliary verb and the past participle

  • Hai già fatto colazione? (Have you already had breakfast?)
  • Sono già stato in Italia (I have already been to Italy)
GIÀ= WELL, YES

Già has a second meaning, which expresses the idea adding a feeling of resignation to the expression ‘of course..’

  • Dovresti smettere di fumare!  (You should quit smoking)
  • Già…  !  (Well, yes)

 

What about ancora?

ANCORA = STILL

The meaning of ancora that many of you certainly already know is still, implying the idea that the action described by the verb has been carried out until now.

Stai ancora dormendo?  (Are you still sleeping?)

ANCORA = AGAIN

However, ancora is widely used with meaning of doing something again

In this case, the adverb can be replaced by the synonyms di nuovo, nuovamente

  • Fallo ancora! (Do it again!)
  • Prova ancora! (Try it again!)
NON ANCORA = NOT YET

When ancora is coming together with the negative adverb non it means not yet. Notice the position of the adverbs with the passato prossimo

  • Non ho ancora mangiato oggi (I haven’t eaten yet today)
  • Non sono ancora stato in Italia  (I haven’t been to Italy yet)
ANCORA = MORE

When Italians mean to add a quantity of something to something else, (e.g. more coffee, more sugar, more salt, more days off, etc…they would use ancora (and not più)

  • Voglio rimanere qui ancora due giorni (I want to stay here two more days)
  • Vuoi ancora zucchero? (Do you want more sugar?)
ANCORA = EVEN

Lastly, Italians use ancora followed by the adverbs più or meno when they want to say even more (or less)

  • Oggi fa ancora più freddo di ieri (Today is even colder than yesterday)