How to Use "Faire" and "Rendir" in French

Both Words Can Be Translated as "to Make"

Young woman making bed
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If you're making something and want to say so in French, which verb do you use, faire or rendir? This is more complicated than it may seem, because "to make" can be translated into French in a number of ways. These two verbs are the most common and each has rules governing when and how to use them. 

General Usage

If you're speaking about making something in a very general sense, then you should use faire.

For example:

    Je fais un gâteau
   I'm making a cake

   Fais ton lit
   Make your bed

   Il a fait une erreur
   He made a mistake

The same rule applies when implying causality:

   Cela m'a fait penser
   That made me think

   Il me fait faire la vaisselle
   He's making me do the dishes

"To make" in the sense of producing something is fabriquer, while in the sense of building it's construire. To talk about forcing someone to do something (e.g., Make me!), use obliger or forcer.

Special Cases

Things get a little more complicated if you are describing how something makes you feel. In these cases, you should use faire when it's followed by a noun in French, and rendre when it's followed by an adjective. For example:

   Cela me fait mal
   That makes me feel pain. That hurts (me).

   Tu me fais honte !
   You make me feel so ashamed!

   Cette pensée fait peur
   That thought makes me scared. It's a frightening thought.

   Cela me rend heureux
   That makes me happy.

   Le poisson m'a rendu malade
   The fish made me sick.

   C'est à te rendre fou
   It's enough to make/drive you crazy.

There are some exceptions, of course. For the following nouns, you need to use the verb donner:

   donner soif à quelqu'un
   to make someone thirsty

   donner faim à quelqu'un
   to make someone hungry

   donner froid à quelqu'un
   to make someone (feel) cold

   donner chaud à quelqu'un
   to make someone (feel) hot

Because all of the above are adjectives in English, you might have a little trouble deciding if the French word is a noun or an adjective.

The solution is to think about which French verb it needs to mean "to be." Nouns need avoir (avoir mal, avoir soif) while adjectives need être (être heureux, être malade).

Other Verbs

Many expressions that include "to make" in English are translated by completely different verbs in French:

to make angryfâcher
to make an appointmentdonner/prendre rendez-vous
to make believe (pretend)faire semblant
to make a decisionprendre une décision
to make dose débrouiller
to make friends/enemiesse faire des amis/ennemis
to make the gradey arriver
to make (someone) latemettre quelqu'un en retard
to make a mealpréparer un répas
to make moneygagner de l'argent
to make sures'assurer, vérifier
to make tiredfatiguer
to make up
(invent) inventer, fabriquer
(after a fight) se réconcilier
(with cosmetics) se maquiller