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.
|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).
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|tu fai / fa’|
- 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:
|Present tense||Past tense|
|fare (to do)||aver fatto (to have done)|
|Present tense||Past tense|
|Present tense||Past tense|
|facendo (doing)||avendo fatto (having done)|
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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