Faire

The verb faire can be used in a causative construction, which means that the subject causes an action to be done by someone or something else. Faire is followed by the infinitive expressing the action to be completed. Note that you have to pay particular attention when thinking of an appropriate English translation, as the following examples show:

  • Le prof fait rire ses élèves. (The teacher makes his students laugh.)
  • Elle a fait laver sa voiture. (She had her car washed.)
  • Je fais faire une robe. (I'm having a dress made.)

Note the following about the causative faire:

Faire + infinitive forms a unit that is not separated by nouns or pronouns. When there is one object, it is a direct object. Direct object nouns follow the infinitive and direct object pronouns precede faire:

  • Il fait venir le médecin. (He has the doctor come.)
  • Il le fait venir. (He has him come.)

When there are two nouns or pronouns, one is the direct object and the other is the indirect object. The person or thing receiving the action is the indirect object:

  • Les parents font envoyer le chèque à leur fils. (The parents have the check sent to their son.)
  • Les parents le font envoyer à leur fils. (The parents have it sent to their son.)
  • Les parents lui font envoyer le chèque. (The parents have the check sent to him.)
  • Les parents le lui font envoyer. (The parents have it sent to him.)

The person or thing performing the action can be introduced by par instead of à to avoid ambiguity. Note the two possible meanings of Il fait lire le poème à sa petite amie.

  • He has his girlfriend read the poem.
  • He has the poem read to his girlfriend.

BUT:

  • Il fait lire le poème par sa petite amie. (He has his girlfriend read the poem.)

In compound tenses, the past participle of faire + infinitive does not agree with the preceding direct object:

  • Il a fait danser la fille. (He made the girl dance.)
  • Il l'a fait danser. (He made her dance.)

A reflexive pronoun (used as an indirect object) can be used in a causative faire construction.

  • Elle se fait couper les cheveux. (She has her hair cut.)
  • Elle s'est fait couper les cheveux. (She had her hair cut.)
  • Elle se les est fait couper. (She had it cut.)