Construction causative réfléchie
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The reflexive causative uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate that the subject is acted upon, whether this action is by his choice or not. It’s equivalent to "get / have something done to / for oneself."
Constructing the reflexive causative
The French reflexive causative is formed with two components and an optional third:
- Se faire conjugated for the subject in any tense/mood
- Action verb in the infinitive
- (optional) Direct object
The reflexive causative can indicate that the subject chooses to have something done to himself.
|Paul se fait raser ce matin.||Paul is getting shaved this morning.|
|Je me suis fait réveiller à 8h.||I got woken up at 8am.|
|Nous voulons nous faire faire* des robes.||We want to have some dresses made.|
* Yes, faire faire is correct. See the note toward the end of the causative lesson.
Accidental / passive event
The reflexive causative can also state that something happens to the subject due to carelessness or some event out of their control.
|Tu te fais toujours avoir.||You’re always getting fooled.|
|Il s’est fait virer.||He got fired.|
|Attention, vous allez vous faire tuer !||Be careful, you’re going to get yourselves killed!|
There may be a direct object.
|Il se fait raser la barbe.||He’s getting his beard shaved (off).|
|Je me suis fait couper les cheveux.||I got my hair cut.|
|Vas-tu te faire faire un gâteau ?||Are you going to get a cake made for yourself?|
Unlike in the regular causative, there can be no named agent in the reflexive causative, because the reflexive pronoun indicates that either the subject is his own agent or the agent is unknown.
Reflexive causative vs Passive voice
In terms of accidental vs passive events, what’s the difference? The choice of the reflexive causative over the passive voice implies that the subject had something to do with what happened to him – it probably wasn’t a complete accident.
|Reflexive causative||Il s’est fait tuer.||He got (himself) killed.|
|Passive voice||Il a été tué.||He got / was killed.|
In the first example, the reflexive causative implies that the subject did something reckless and was killed, while in the second, the passive voice gives no indication as to whether the subject did anything wrong – he may have had an accident or been murdered.
- Introduction to the causative
- Se faire – Reflexive causative
- Direct objects and agreement with the causative
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