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"Faire" + Infinitive: Causing Something to Happen

There's a simple French construction you can use when you're talking about getting someone to do something: faire ("to make" or "to do") + infinitive. It may even be easier than actually getting them to do it!

The construction is known as the causative, and as its name suggests, it's used whenever the subject is causing something to happen. Just put faire in front of whatever action you want someone to do:

On essaie juste de se défouler et de faire rire l'autre

They just try to unwind and to make each other laugh.

Cap. 5, Le Journal: Les effets bénéfiques du rire!


"Faire + infinitive" is especially useful when you're having someone perform a service:

Henri Quatre... décida de faire construire une place en l'honneur du Dauphin, la place Dauphine

Henry the Fourth... decided to have a square built in honor of the Dauphin, the Place Dauphine

Cap. 17-18, Voyage dans Paris: Ponts de Paris

Je vais faire réparer mon ordinateur.

I'm going to get my computer fixed.  

Incidentally, if you're talking about making someone or something an adjective, the construction to use is rendre ("to make" or "to render") + adjective (never "faire + adjective"):

Ce cadeau va rendre mon ami heureux.

This gift will make my friend happy

Like most verbal constructions, "faire + infinitive" can also become reflexive. In this case, the subject is being made to do something (not making someone else do it). Of course, being made to do something isn't always a good thing:

Je me suis fait voler mon sac.

I had my bag stolen

Je me suis retrouvé en train de me faire réveiller

I found myself being awakened

Cap. 10, Le Journal: Les relations franco-gabonaises

Il faut se faire entendre, hein.

You have to be heard, you know.

Cap. 57, Manif du mois: Fukushima plus jamais ça

Me faire réveiller and se faire entendre could be translated more literally as "having myself be awakened" and "make oneself be heard."

The reflexive form of "faire + infinitive" can also be used to describe something that you have someone do for you or to you:

Je me fais livrer mon dîner chaque nuit.

I have my dinner delivered to me every night. 

On peut aller se faire faire des massages.

You can go have a massage.

Cap. 25, Le Journal: iDTGV - Part 1


There's no typo in that last example—the second faire is just the infinitive part of the "faire + infinitive" construction. Without it, you would have on peut aller se faire des massages, or "you can go give yourself a massage," which isn't nearly as luxurious. 

Now that you know all this, you can sit back and have a French person build a square in your honor. You deserve it! 


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