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A Complete Guide to “Fare” Conjugation in All Italian Tenses

The fare conjugation is very important and widely used in Italian. The verb fare means “to do”, “to make”. You can hear fare in many circumstances, such as when people ask and give information about one’s profession, leisure time and interests. Fare is an irregular verb that does not follow the general rules and doesn’t take the usual suffixes of the regular verbs ending in -are. In this lesson, we’ll see how to conjugate it properly and its different uses.

Fare Conjugation in the Indicative Present Tense

The verb fare is one of the essential Italian verbs to know. The times we talk about doing or making something are countless. First, we’ll take a look at the present tense forms of the verb fare with examples, so you’ll get an idea of how to use it.

Presente Present tense
io faccio I do
tu fai you do
egli fa he/she does
noi facciamo we do
voi fate you do
essi fanno they do
  • Che lavoro fai?
    What do you do? / What’s your job?
  • Faccio il medico.
    I’m a doctor.
  • Che fai?
    What are you doing?

In Italian, you can also use the verb fare to tell people about your job. English normally uses the verb “to be”, for example: I’m a doctor. In Italian you can use either the verb fare or the verb essere (to be).

Fare Conjugation in the Indicative Past Tense

Italian has more than one past tense: we will first see the simple tenses called imperfetto and passato remoto. Let’s see how to conjugate the imperfetto (imperfect tense).

Imperfetto Imperfect
io facevo I did / used to do
tu facevi you did / used to do
egli faceva he/she did / used to do
noi facevamo we did / used to do
voi facevate you did / used to do
essi facevano they did / used to do

The Italian imperfetto of the verb fare is one of the most frequently used and you can find it in two cases:

1. To talk about past habits and actions that happened often:

  • Quando ero piccolo, la mamma faceva la pasta fresca ogni domenica.
    When I was young, my mom used to do homemade pasta every Sunday.

2. To describe actions in progress in the past, usually introduced by the marker word mentre (when, while):

  • Mentre facevo la spesa, ho incontrato Lucia.
    While I was doing my grocery shopping, I met Lucia.

The Italian passato remoto (Remote Past tense) is also a simple tense composed by only one word, although its use is not so common. You can find it in history texts or literature. It is used to talk about events or actions which happened a long time ago from the point of view of the speaker. The Remote Past tense of fare looks like this:

Passato remoto Remote Past tense
io feci I did
tu facesti you did
egli fece he/she did
noi facemmo we did
voi faceste you did
essi fecero they did
  • Provai a fermare la macchina, ma non feci in tempo.
    I tried to stop the car, but I couldn’t make it.
  • La battaglia di Poitiers fece perdere la guerra alla Francia.
    The battle of Poitiers made France lose the war.

Fare Conjugation to Talk about Future Actions

The future tense in Italian is used to talk about an action that has yet to happen and corresponds to the English use of “will” or “going to”. You can use the Future Simple of fare to talk about future actions or plans.

Futuro semplice Future Simple
io farò I will do
tu farai you will do
egli farà he/she will do
noi faremo we will do
voi farete you will do
essi faranno they will do
  • Lo farò domani.
    I will do it tomorrow.
  • Che farai dopo l’università?
    What will you do after college?

Compound Tenses of the Verb Fare

So far, we’ve seen the simple tenses of fare conjugation. However, the Italian Indicative mood also has different compound tenses used to talk about both the past and the future. Usually, the compound tenses are formed by taking the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb avere (to have) or essere (to be), followed by the past participle. In this case, fare is a transitive verb and therefore requires the auxiliary verb avere (to have). Let’s see each compound tense, one by one.

Fare Conjugation: Present Perfect Tense

The Italian Present Perfect tense, or passato prossimo, is one of the most used to talk about actions that happened in the recent past. The Present Perfect tense form of fare is made up of the Present Simple form of the auxiliary verb avere (to have) + the past participle of fare: fatto.

Passato prossimo – Present perfect tense
io ho fatto I did / I have done
tu hai fatto you did / have done
egli ha fatto he/she did / have done
noi abbiamo fatto we did / have done
voi avete fatto you did / have done
essi hanno fatto they did / have done

The Italian passato prossimo can be translated both into the English Simple Past and Present Perfect:

  • Che hai fatto lo scorso weekend?
    What did you do last weekend?
  • Hanno fatto un buon lavoro.
    They’ve done a good job.

Fare Conjugation: Past Perfect Tense

There are two compound Past tenses in Italian: trapassato prossimo and trapassato remoto. They are considered advanced level tenses and aren’t common in everyday language, so don’t worry if you don’t understand them immediately.

The Italian trapassato prossimo (Past perfect or Pluperfect) of the verb fare can be translated into the “had done” structure. It is formed with the imperfetto (imperfect) form of the auxiliary verb avere and the past participle of fare: fatto.

Trapassato prossimo – Pluperfect
io avevo fatto I had done
tu avevi fatto you had done
egli aveva fatto he/she had done
noi avevamo fatto we had done
voi avevate fatto you had done
essi avevano fatto they had done

You use this tense to express an action completed in the past and preceding another action in the past.

  • Avevo già fatto quel lavoro, quando il manager mi disse di lasciar perdere.
    I had already done that job, when the manager asked me to drop it.
  • Poichè non aveva fatto i compiti, la maestra si arrabbiò.
    Since he hadn’t done his homework, the teacher got angry.

As for the trapassato remoto (Preterite Perfect tense), English lacks this tense. It is used to talk about an action that happened before another action in the past, a long time ago. To use it, the auxiliary verb must be conjugated in the passato remoto (Remote Past tense), and then the past participle is added. Like trapassato prossimo, it’s a less common tense in the Italian language and you can find it almost uniquely in literature.

Trapassato remoto – Preterite perfect tense
io ebbi fatto I had done
tu avesti fatto you had done
egli ebbe fatto he/she had done
noi avemmo fatto we had done
voi aveste fatto you had done
essi ebbero fatto they had done
  • Nel 1950, dopo che la nonna ebbe fatto quel viaggio, sposò il nonno.
    In 1950, after my grandma had done that trip, she married my grandpa.

Fare Conjugation: Future Perfect Tense

The compound future tense in Italian is called futuro anteriore (Future Perfect tense). While the Future Simple is used to express actions that haven’t happened yet, the Future Perfect tense is generally used for future actions that will be finished before another action takes place. It corresponds to the English structure “will have done”. In a sentence with the first verb with futuro anteriore the second verb is generally conjugated with Future Simple, such as:

  • Quando avrò fatto la spesa, preparerò la cena.
    When I will have done my shopping, I’ll prepare dinner.
  • Appena avrò fatto la doccia, uscirò.
    When I’m done showering, I’ll go out.
Futuro anteriore – Future Perfect
io avrò fatto I will have done
tu avrai fatto you will have done
egli avrà fatto he/she will have done
noi avremo fatto we will have done
voi avrete fatto you will have done
essi avranno fatto they will have done

Sometimes, when Italian uses futuro anteriore, English uses future, present or even past tense. If you want to learn more about when to use futuro anteriore, you can have a look here.

Subjunctive Tense of Fare

The Subjunctive mood is used in many situations in Italian, mostly in dependent clauses introduced by “che”. The subjunctive mood has two simple and two compound tenses and is used to express doubts, opinions, wishes and assumptions.

Present Subjunctive

The Subjunctive marks a subjective statement. While the Indicative mood expresses a fact, the Subjunctive is used to mark a personal opinion or emotions in uncertain situations.

  • Fai bene a telefonargli (Indicative mood).
    You’re doing right by calling him.
  • Penso che tu faccia bene a telefonargli (Subjunctive mood).
    I think that you’re doing right by calling him.
Congiuntivo presente – Present Subjunctive
(che) io faccia
(che) tu faccia
(che) egli faccia
(che) noi facciamo
(che) voi facciate
(che) essi facciano
  • È necessario che tu faccia questa cosa per me.
    It’s necessary that you do this thing for me.

Perfect Subjunctive

The perfect subjunctive is similar to the Italian passato prossimo except that the auxiliary verbs (essere or avere) are used in the subjunctive present form.

Congiuntivo passato – Subjunctive perfect
(che) io abbia fatto
(che) tu abbia fatto
(che) egli abbia fatto
(che) noi abbiamo fatto
(che) voi abbiate fatto
(che) essi abbiano fatto
  • Spero che abbiate fatto buon volo.
    I hope you had a pleasant flight.

Subjunctive Imperfect

The subjunctive imperfect is used to talk about hypothetical situations or to express a wish. It is often used when the main sentence includes conditional tense, past tense or imperfect tense.

Congiuntivo passato – Subjunctive perfect
(che) io facessi
(che) tu facessi
(che) egli facesse
(che) noi facessimo
(che) voi faceste
(che) essi facessero
  • Se solo tutti facessero un buon lavoro come te!
    If only everyone could do such a good job like you!
  • Speravo tanto che ce la facesse a venire alla festa.
    I really hoped he would make it to the party.

Pluperfect Subjunctive

The pluperfect subjunctive, or congiuntivo trapassato, is an advanced, compound tense. Since it takes some time to master and can be intimidating, we will only say a few words about it. The Pluperfect Subjunctive of fare is formed with the Subjunctive imperfect of the auxiliary verb avere (to have) plus the past participle of fare (fatto). You can learn more about the Pluperfect Subjunctive here.

Congiuntivo trapassato – Pluperfect Subjunctive
(che) io avessi fatto
(che) tu avessi fatto
(che) egli avesse fatto
(che) noi avessimo fatto
(che) voi aveste fatto
(che) essi avessero fatto
  • Se tu avessi fatto quello che ti avevo chiesto, non saremmo in questa situazione.
    If you had done what I asked, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Conditional Tense of Fare

The Italian Conditional only has two tenses: present and past. It is the equivalent of the English construction with would. The Present conditional of fare conjugation looks like this:

Condizionale presente Conditional Present tense
io farei I would do
tu faresti you would do
egli farebbe he / she would do
noi faremmo we would do
voi fareste you would do
essi farebbero they would do
  • Farei di tutto per te.
    I would do anything for you.

The other tense is the Past Conditional, equivalent to the English structure “would have done”. It’s formed with the Conditional Present of avere and the past participle of fare:

Condizionale passato Conditional Past tense
io avrei fatto I would have done
tu avresti fatto you would have done
egli avrebbe fatto he / she would have done
noi avremmo fatto we would have done
voi avreste fatto you would have done
essi avrebbero fatto they would have done
  • L’avrei fatto, se solo avessi avuto tempo.
    I would have done it, if only I had time.

Imperative Mood of Fare

The Italian imperative is the mood used to give orders, offer advice or suggestions.

Imperativo presente
tu fai / fa’
egli faccia
noi facciamo
voi fate
essi facciano
  • Fate silenzio per favore.
    Please be silent.
  • Fa’ come vuoi.
    Do as you wish.

Indefinite Moods of Fare

Finally, here are the indefinite moods of fare:

Infinito Infinitive
Present tense Past tense
fare (to do) aver fatto (to have done)
Participio Participle
Present tense Past tense
facente fatto (done)
Gerundio Gerundive
Present tense Past tense
facendo (doing) avendo fatto (having done)

Conclusions

So now you know how to use the fare conjugation to talk about past, present and future actions. The verb fare is one of the basics of the Italian language, and even if there’s quite a lot to remember in this lesson, don’t get discouraged! Keep practicing and you will master it eventually.

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