Causative Construction with Objects and Agreement

Construction causative – Objets et accord

French causative
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Certain aspects of French grammar are a bit different with the causative than with other two-verb constructions.

Direct and indirect objects

The causative requires a direct object, which may be either the recipient of the action or the agent (performer) of it. When the direct object is replaced with a direct object pronoun, it must precede faire.

Par exemple…

Hélène fait coudre une robe.
Hélène la fait coudre. 
  Hélène is having a dress sewn.
Hélène is having it sewn.
Hélène fait coudre Michel.
Hélène le fait coudre.
  Hélène is making Michel sew.
Hélène is making him sew.

When you have a recipient and an agent, the former is always the direct object and the latter, the indirect object. As explained on page 1, this automatically means that a preposition must be added in front of the agent. Alternatively, you can replace the preposition + indirect object with an indirect object pronoun.

Hélène fait coudre une robe à Michel.   Hélène is having Michel sew a dress.
Hélène la fait coudre à Michel.
Hélène lui fait coudre une robe.
  Hélène is having Michel sew it.
Hélène is having him sew a dress.
Hélène la lui fait coudre.    Hélène is having him sew it.

(See double object pronouns for help with word order)

In the case of the reflexive causative, the reflexive pronoun is always the agent and therefore the indirect object.

Paul se fait couper les cheveux.
Paul se les fait couper.
  Paul is having his hair cut.
Paul is having it cut.
Je me fais faire le maquillage.
Je me le fais faire.
  I’m getting my make-up done.
I’m getting it done.


The causative does not follow the normal rules of agreement: the past participle fait is always invariable in the causative.

Hélène a fait coudre la robe.
Hélène l’a fait coudre.

 X Hélène l’a faite coudre. X
  Hélène had the dress sewn.
Hélène had it sewn.
Paul s’est fait couper les cheveux.
Paul se les est fait couper.

 X Paul se les est faits couper. X
  Paul had his hair cut.
Paul had it cut.

Learn more

  1. Introduction to the causative
  2. Se faire – Reflexive causative
  3. Direct objects and agreement with the causative

 Related lessons

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French causative - Faire + infinitive

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