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To make someone do something: Italian grammar lesson 193

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To practice this grammar topic, take Lesson 193 of Ripeti Con Me!

Table of Contents

To make someone do something

If you want to make someone do something for you or for someone else, it is because you either don’t want to do it or because you think they can do it better than you.

It could also be the opposite: that you want to do something for someone else. In Italian, there is a very common structure to say this.

We call it “fare causativo” and it refers to the verb fare which can “cause” someone to do something for someone else.

Fare + (verb)

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The structure is pretty simple. You just need the verb fare followed by a verb in the infinitive (which is the base form). For example: fare fare; fare mangiare; fare credere; fare vedere, etc.

The verb fare can, of course, be in any tense: past, present, or future. It depends on what you want to say. Let’s have a look at some examples so that you understand this better:

  • La professoressa ha fatto scrivere un tema ai suoi studenti.
    The teacher made her students write an essay.
  • Mi fai impazzire
    You make me go crazy.
  • Lei gli ha fatto capire che si sbagliava.
    She made him understand he was wrong.
  • Marcello le fa sempre ridere.
    Marcello always makes them laugh.
  • Sua sorella lo ha fatto piangere.
    His sister made him cry.
  • Antonella ci fa sentire speciale.
    Antonella makes us feel special.

Pronouns or objects

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You might have noticed that, since we usually make someone do something, we’ll usually find this structure together with some words that are called direct object pronouns or objects, or indirect object pronouns or objects.

AI 3 193

Usually, these pronouns or objects refer to the person who is actually doing the main action. If you’re not familiar with these terms, here’s a list of what they refer to:

  • Direct object pronouns: mi, ti, lo/la, ci, vi, li/le
  • Direct objects: mia madre, gli studenti, le ragazze, etc.
  • Indirect object pronouns: mi, ti, gli/le, ci, vi, gli
  • Indirect objects: a mia madre, agli studenti, alle ragazze, etc.

You probably noticed that there isn’t a big difference between direct and indirect object pronouns. The only ones that change are lo/la and li/le, and gli/le and gli. As for direct and indirect objects, the only difference is that with indirect objects we have the preposition “a” and all of its variations (like “alla“, “agli“, etc.).

Indirect object pronouns or objects

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We usually use indirect object pronouns or objects if the verb has an object. Let’s have a look at some examples so that you understand better:

  • Lei gli ha fatto capire che si sbagliava.
    She made him understand he was wrong.
  • La professoressa ha fatto scrivere un tema ai suoi studenti.
    The teacher made her students write an essay.

Since you can say “capire qualcosa o qualcuno/scrivere qualcosa” (literally, “understand something or someone/write something“), these verbs have an object (=they can be followed by “something” or “someone”). With these verbs, you need indirect object pronouns or objects.

With regard to the person who is doing the main action, in the first example, the person who actually understood they were wrong was “him” (“gli”), not her. She caused this situation but she didn’t do the action.

In the second example, the ones who actually wrote an essay were the students. The teacher just made them do it but didn’t write the essay.

Direct pronouns or objects

make someone do somehting

We usually use direct object pronouns or objects if the verb doesn’t have an object. Let’s have a look at some examples:

  • Marcello le fa sempre ridere.
    Marcello always makes them laugh.
  • Sua sorella lo ha fatto piangere.
    His sister made him cry.

Since you cannot say “ridere/piangere qualcosa o qualcuno” (literally, “cry or laugh something or someone“), these verbs don’t have an object (=they cannot be followed by “something” or “someone”). With these verbs, you need direct object pronouns or objects.

In terms of who is doing the main action, in the first example, it is “them” who always laugh. Marcello caused that but he didn’t do the main action. It’s the same thing with the second sentence: the one who is crying is “him”. His sister just caused that.

Don’t worry!

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Don’t worry if you find the part about direct and indirect object pronouns, and direct and indirect objects complex and overwhelming. You’ll get the hang of it with practice, patience, and confidence. For now, just try to understand the logic behind it. That will be more than enough!

Useful combinations

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Here are some common combinations:

  • fare capire: to make (someone) understand
  • fare credere: to make (someone) believe
  • fare fare: to make (someone) do
  • fare piangere: to make (someone) cry
  • fare ridere: to make (someone) laugh
  • fare sapere: to make (someone) know
  • fare vedere: to make (someone) see

You’ll hear them a lot if you go to Italy or if you have Italian friends.

All clear about how to “make someone do something” in Italian?

Now, let’s learn about how to “let someone do something“!

To practice this grammar topic, take Lesson 193 of Ripeti Con Me!

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