Faire

Make Do with a French Verb

Faire is one of the most common and useful French verbs and has irregular conjugations in just about every tense and mood. Faire literally means "to do" or "to make," but it’s also found in many idiomatic expressions and is the key to the causative construction.

Faire = to do / to make

Faire can mean either "to do" or "to make." For English speakers learning French, this is easy: you can use faire for either. For French speakers learning English, however, it’s much more difficult.*

Par exemple…

Je fais la vaisselle.   I'm doing the dishes.
Que faites-vous dans la vie ?   What do you do for a living?
Je fais le lit.   I’m making the bed.
Que fais-tu pour le déjeuner ?   What are you making for lunch?

Potential French mistake Two exceptions

  1. "Make" with an adjective is equivalent to rendre, not faire: That makes me sad = Ça me rend triste, not Ça me fait triste. More about this in a future lesson.
  2. "Make a decision" = prendre une décision, not faire une décision.

Faire = to be

Faire is equivalent to "to be" in two domains:

1) Weather

Il fait chaud.   It’s hot (out).
Il fait 30 degrés.   It’s 30 degrees Celsius.

2) Math

Un et un font deux.   One plus one is two.
Trois fois quatre font douze.   Three times four is twelve.

Faire = to sport

With the names of sports and other activities, faire is equivalent to the verb for that activity in English.

Par exemple…

Il fait du cyclisme.   He bikes.
J’aime faire de la randonnée.   I like hiking.
Faites-vous de l’autostop ?   Do you hitchhike?

Faire = to have done, make happen

Faire plus the infinitive is the causative construction: to have/make (someone) do (something).

Par exemple…

Je fais tondre le gazon.   I’m having the lawn mowed.
Il m’a fait pleurer.   He made me cry.

Faire in idiomatic expressions

Faire is found in dozens of idiomatic expressions; here are just a few:

 Related lessons

* Difference between "do" and "make"

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Faire - to do, make


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