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Faire + L'Infinitif = to have something done (causative)

Look at these sentences:

Tu as fait changer tes rideaux.
You had your curtains changed.

Nous allons faire refaire notre salon.
We are going to have our living-room refurbished.

Je me suis fait faire les ongles.
I had my nails done.

J'ai fait repeindre ma chambre.
I had my bedroom repainted.

 

See how when you want to say you are having / had / will have [something] done in French, you use the verb faire followed by an infinitive and then the thing being done.

ATTENTION: 

When it comes to reflexive verbs, me/te/se/nous/vous/se is placed BEFORE faire. Also, in Compound tenses, this structure uses être as the auxiliary:

Ils se font couper les cheveux.
They're having their hair cut.

Elle se fait rembourser.
She gets refunded.  

 

Je me suis fait faire les ongles.
I had my nails done.

Il s'est fait couper les cheveux.
He had his hair done.

 

GRAMMAR JARGON: This structure is called the causative.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Elle se fait rembourser.
She gets refunded.  


Tu as fait changer tes rideaux.
You had your curtains changed.


Nous allons faire refaire notre salon.
We are going to have our living-room refurbished.


Ils se font couper les cheveux.
They're having their hair cut.


Il s'est fait couper les cheveux.
He had his hair done.


J'ai fait repeindre ma chambre.
I had my bedroom repainted.


Je me suis fait faire les ongles.
I had my nails done.


Q&A

engenious

Kwiziq community member

9 March 2018

2 replies

Je me suis fait cuire des oeufs et ...

engenious

Kwiziq community member

9 March 2018

9/03/18

In "L'etranger" I assume the writer means "I cooked myself some eggs" rather than "I had some eggs cooked" ??

Chris

Kwiziq community member

10 March 2018

10/03/18

The reflexive form of "faire" is used to make the action more indirect, to put some distance between the subject and the verb. At least that's my understanding. So most of the time this is translated as "having something done" rather than doing it oneself. In other cases the distance is more subtle. 


"Je me suis fait cuisiner des œufs" emphasises the fact that it is actually the stove who is cooking the eggs, if you want to look at it this way. Insome versions of US slang there is something similar:


I ate a burger. 


I had myself a burger. 


Mind you, that's the understanding I developped. A native speaker would need to have the final say on this.


-- Chris (not a native speaker).


Susan

Kwiziq community member

8 August 2017

3 replies

So much about this I don't understand. To start with. Je me suis fait faire les ongles.

Why is it fait not faire or even fais? Also why les ongles and not mes ongles?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

8 August 2017

8/08/17

Bonjour Susan,

The basic construction is faire + infinitive = to have something done

Se faire + infinitive = to have someone done to/for oneself

Je me suis fait faire is the past tense = I had something done to myself (fait is the past participle)

Since it's obvious that the ongles belong to me, the definite article is used - see Using le, la, les with body parts

Susan

Kwiziq community member

8 August 2017

8/08/17

Thanks Laura, a big help.

Erlinda

Kwiziq community member

2 December 2017

2/12/17

As to the first part of your question, it is my understanding that someone else is doing my nails (I don't know if I'm right), that's why "fait"--3rd person singular.
As to "les ongles," just like in Spanish, one does not say "mes ongles" when referring ot one's body part. One says "les."

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 January 2017

2 replies

Wendy asked: "Why isn't it 'll s'est fait FAIRE couper les cheveux? When do you use fais faire?"

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 January 2017

3/01/17

Bonjour Wendy !

In this case, it would be redundant and awkward to use "faire faire couper", as you'd be saying "He's had had his hair cut."
You'll use "faire faire" when there's no other verb afterwards, to express "to have *something* done/made":
"J'ai fait faire une robe pour Laura." (I had a dress made for Laura.)
"Nous faisons faire des travaux dans notre cuisine." (We're having some work done in our kitchen.)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne Année !

Wendy

Kwiziq community member

3 January 2017

3/01/17

Thank you for the clear explanation, Am learning so much from this site. Bonne Année

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

15 November 2016

2 replies

''Eva se fait laver les cheveux.'' means Eva is having her hair done?

Am I correct in thinking that Eva se fait laver les cheveux means she is having her hair washed as well as she has her hair done? I am slightly thrown because has her hair done looks like a past perfect construction but se fait laver like a present.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 November 2016

18/11/16

Bonjour Jennifer !

I agree with you than using "is having her hair washed" is probably a better translation in this context (I've edited it accordingly), but note that if you were talking about a habit for example, "she has her hair done every week", the use of present tense "has" would be correct.
Here though it might look a bit like the present perfect "has done", note that in the present perfect, you wouldn't place the object of the sentence in-between "has" and "done" (e.g. He has done his homework).
The structure used here is called "causative": to have + [something] + -ed

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Erlinda

Kwiziq community member

2 December 2017

2/12/17

I don't think we can assume that Eva is having her hair done. She's only having it washed.

Ann

Kwiziq community member

14 October 2016

5 replies

Why does the past participle of the reflexive se faire not agree in this case?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2016

15/10/16

I believe it is because "fait" doesn't exist as "faite" or "faites", It appears to be immutable.. Apparently only the PP that end on é are matched in number and gender, as in: "Anne s'est douchée". I am not a native speaker, though.

-- Chris.

Ann

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2016

15/10/16

Merci. I think I have found the answer - " In certain expressions, such as faire + infinitive, laisser +infinitive, se rendre compte, and others, the place of the direct object is held by an infinitive or other complement, which will always follow the principal verb. In these expressions no agreement is usually made".

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

15 October 2016

15/10/16

Claus - that's not true at all. All past participles are subject to agreement, no matter what letter they end in. For example, la tarte que j'ai faite est délicieuse, les livres que tu as vendus sont intéressants, etc.

Ann - that's correct, it's because this is the causative construction.

Ann

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2016

15/10/16

Merci
In the example "la tarte que j'ai faite est delicieuse" the past participle in this case agrees with the noun (la tarte - the object of the sentence) (even though it is an avoir, not etre, construction) because it PRECEDES the participle. On the other hand "J'ai fait la tarte does not agree because la tarte (the object )comes after the participle. Merci Laura and Claus. Laura please can you explain the causative construction, which i'm sure is a better way of explaining this grammar point?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

15 October 2016

15/10/16

Bonjour Ann,

This is the lesson on the causative: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/view/4617 I've asked Aurélie to add a note to that effect.

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