Faire is an incredibly versatile verb in French and I’ve recently been finding myself using 3 more advanced ways of using it in my everyday speech.
They really make me feel accomplished so that’s what I want to share with you today.
I call them advanced because the grammar behind them and or the lack of an easy translation to English can make them hard to grasp and start using.
So don’t worry if you’re not there yet.
Keep them in mind and listen out for them in your conversations or when watching or listening to French.
Watch the video below or keep on reading.
FAIRE FAIRE (Faire + another verb)
Alors, the first thing on this list is putting the verb faire directly before another verb to express that the subject is the cause of an action, without performing the action themselves.
This is called Le causatif.
Check out these examples:
- Je fais rénover ma cuisine.
- Mes parents font monter des meubles IKEA.
- Vous avez fait partir les filles !
The first two examples are how the French say I’m getting my kitchen renovated and My parents are having some IKEA furniture assembled. I am not renovating my own kitchen, I’m getting some professionals to do it, just as my parents are doing for the assembly of their furniture. The faire shows that there is an intermediary who is performing the action described by the second verb, without necessarily naming them.
The third example also involves an intermediary, although it’s less clear what it is because it’s not a person as is the case in the first two. You made the girls leave. You were the cause of the girls leaving but it was something you said or your behaviour that led them to leave. In English we say made and as you know, faire means to do or to make so this one is easier to use right away I think but harder to explain.
You can absolutely name the intermediary too. It’s just that often it’s not needed. It depends on the situation, but you could say Je fais rénover ma cuisine par une entreprise de bricolage.
I’ll always remember the first example sentence one of my teachers used to teach me this concept:
- Je fais cuire un oeuf. Je fais cuire un oeuf.
- I cook or boil an egg.
In English we don’t use make, have, or get to imply that there is an intermediary that performs the action. Yet in French they are much more literal. Why is it not Je cuis un oeuf? I’m the one standing over the pan of boiling water after all.
Well it’s because it’s actually the heat below the pan that is boiling the water and cooking the egg! Think about that one!
SE FAIRE + VERB
The second thing in the list of ways to use faire is an extension of the first and that is to use se faire when the action happens to and is caused by the same person:
- Il s’est fait virer.
This means He got fired or He got himself fired. He was in some way at fault which led to him getting fired. He caused the action.
Another one is:
- Je me fais couper les cheveux.
I get my hair cut. I am NOT the one cutting it. Someone else is. If I cut my own hair, it’s je me coupe les cheveux. I know, not the most relevant example for me (je suis chauve / I’m bald!) but I’m sure it’s relevant for a lot of you :D.
So it’s this idea of being the cause of an action but not the one who performs it.
Sometimes it’s as clear as day and sometimes it’s more abstract.
CE QUI FAIT QUE
The third thing on this list of advanced uses of faire in everyday French is the expression ce qui fait que
, which means one of things: firstly, which means that and second, what makes. As ever, let’s see some examples in order to understand better.
- A Montpellier, il y a 300 jours de soleil par an, ce qui fait que les gens sont plus heureux en général.
- In Montpellier there are 300 days of sun a year, which means that people are happier in general.
- La balade dure 4 heures, ce qui fait qu’on sera de retour le repas de midi.
- The walk lasts 4 hours, which means we’ll be back for lunch.
Notice that it’s at the start of its own clause. Something will have been said, and then we take a breath and say ce qui fait que… to explain further.
When it’s after c’est or is part of the object of a verb, it means what makes:
- Ils veulent savoir ce qui fait que vous êtes les experts en technologie.
- They want to know what makes you the experts on technology.
- Je pense que c’est ce qui fait que ton entreprise se ressort du lot.
- I think it’s what makes your company stand out from the crowd.
- Après tout, c’est ce qui fait que la démocratie fonctionne.
- After all, that’s what makes democratie work.
Voilà voilà, a brief introduction to 3 very very common everyday uses of faire that you want to start thinking about using when you have a good intermediate level of speaking, in my opinion.