All About the Major French Verb 'Faire' ('to Do')

The Causative Construction and Expressions With the Irregular Verb 'Faire'

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The irregular verb faire ("to do" or "to make") is one of the 10 most frequently used verbs in the French language alongside être, avoir, dire, aller, voir, savoir, pouvoir, falloir, and vouloir. Faire is also used to form the causative construction and in numerous idiomatic expressions.

'To Do' or 'To Make'

Faire means "to do" and "to make" in most senses that these verbs are used in English.

  • Je fais la lessive. > I'm doing the laundry.
  • Je fais mes devoirs. > I'm doing my homework.
  • Je fais du bricolage. > I do odd jobs / DIY projects.
  • Je fais un gâteau. > I'm making a cake.
  • Je fais des projets. > I'm making plans.
  • Je fais des progrès. > I'm making progress.


When the intent is to communicate "to make," the French tend to be more specific, and, instead of faire, they would use, for example, fabriquer, construire, obliger, forcer, donner, or a whole list of alternate verbs. In the following instances, idiomatic usage calls for the verbs rendre and prendre, not faire:

When "to make" is followed by an adjective, it is translated by rendre:

  • Ça me rend heureux. > That makes me happy.

"To make a decision" is expressed with prendre une décision:

  • J'ai pris une décision.  I made a decision.

Causative Construction

The causative construction faire plus an infinitive describes when someone or something has something done, makes someone do something, or causes something to happen.

  • Je fais laver la voiture. > I'm having the car washed.
  • Il m'a fait laver la voiture. > He made me wash the car.
  • Le froid fait geler l'eau. > Cold makes water freeze.

Expressions With 'Faire'

Faire is used in a number of idiomatic expressions, including many related to weather, sports, math, and everyday life.

  • Il fait du soleil. > It's sunny
  • Il fait froid. > It's cold out.
  • il fait beau / il  fait beau temps > It's nice weather. / It's nice out. / The weather is fine / nice .
  • Je fais du ski. > I ski.
  • Je fais du golf. > I golf.
  • Deux et deux font quatre. > Two plus two equals (makes) four.
  • Je fais de l'autostop. > I'm hitchhiking.
  • Il fait à sa tête. > He acts impulsively.
  • Ça fait parti de notre projet. > That's part of our plan.
  • faire 5 kilomètres > to go 5 kilometers
    faire trois heures > to be on the road for three hours
  • faire acte de présence > to put in an appearance
  • faire attention à > to pay attention to, watch out for
  • faire bon accueil > to welcome
  • faire de la peine à quelqu'un > to hurt someone (emotionally or morally)
  • faire de la photographie > to do photography as a hobby
  • faire des châteaux en Espagne > to build castles in the air
  • faire des cours > to give classes, lectures
  • faire des économies > to save up / to save money / to economize
  • faire de son mieux > to do one's best
  • faire du lard (familiar) > to sit around doing nothing
  • faire du sport > to play sports
  • faire du théâtre > to be an actor / to do some acting
  • faire du violon, piano > to study violin, piano
  • faire d'une pierre deux coups > to kill two birds with one stone
  • faire face à > to oppose / to face up to
  • faire fi > to scorn
  • faire jour, nuit > to be daytime, nighttime
  • faire la bête > to act like a fool
  • faire la bise, le bisou > to kiss hello
  • faire la connaissance de > to meet (for the first time)
  • faire le ménage > to do housework


You will find all tenses of faire conjugated elsewhere; for now, here is the present tense to illustrate just how irregular this essential French verb is.

Present tense
je fais
tu fais
il fait
nous faisons
vous faites
ils font

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ThoughtCo. "All About the Major French Verb 'Faire' ('to Do')." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). All About the Major French Verb 'Faire' ('to Do'). Retrieved from ThoughtCo. "All About the Major French Verb 'Faire' ('to Do')." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 18, 2018).