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having people do things - il fare causativo

The verb fare followed by an infinitive renders the idea of “having something done.”

Ha fatto lavare la macchina.

He had the car washed.

Questa volta, mi farò tagliare i capelli più corti.

This time, I’ll have my hair cut shorter.

Note fare can be in any tense. The thing you’re having done is in the infinitive.

It also expresses the idea of making someone specific do something. The person you’re making do the action is an indirect object, and takes the preposition “a”. The thing you’re making them do the action to is a direct object. The action itself is still in the infinitive.

Domani, faccio pulire la camera a Maria.

Tomorrow I’ll have Maria clean the room.

Domani le faccio pulire la camera.

Tomorrow I’ll have her clean the room.

The usual rules apply to pronouns in this construction. They go before the verb (before fare to be exact).

Facciamo riparare la macchina.

We’re having the car repaired.

La facciamo riparare.

We’re having it repaired.

Facciamo riparare la macchina al mecanico.

We’re having the mechanic repair the car.

Gliela facciamo riparare.

We’re having him repair it.

Remember, as always, if the direct object is a pronoun, and the sentence is in the past, the past participle agrees with the direct object pronoun.

Gli abbiamo fatto riparare la macchina.

We had him repair the car.

Gliela abbiamo fatta riparare.

We had him repair it.

And, again as always, pronouns get attached to informal imperatives.

Fagliela riparare!

Have him fix it!

But precede formal ones.

Gliela faccia riparare.

To express the idea of having someone (specific or not) do something specifically for you (or for anyone specific), make fare reflexive. Farsi fare qualcosa da qualcuno (no longer a qualcuno). Since the verb is reflexive now, it conjugates with essere in the past, and the participle agrees with the subject.

Some examples.

Mario si fa fare un vestito dal sarto.

Mario is having the tailor make him a suit.

Mario se lo fa fare dal sarto.

Mario is having the tailor make it for him.

Mario si è fatto fare un vestito dal sarto.

Mario had the tailor make him a suit.

Maria se lo è fatta fare.

Maria had it made for her.

To my knowledge, there’s no way to say, “He had him make it for him” (three pronouns, indirect, direct and reflexive). But even in English this sounds like gobbledygook.

A common Italian expression using the fare causativo is, “Chi me lo fa fare!” (Or, in the past, “Chi me lo ha fatto fare!”) You use it to express exasperation when some attempt is going badly. C4N!

Reader Comments (1)

In this construction - "Gliela abbiamo fatta riparare " - isn't the "la" the object of the infinitive rather than of fare? Should the past participle therefore be "fatto" rather than "fatta"?

i.e. "Gliela abbiamo fatto riparare."
August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaoud

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