Italian Causative Verbs (Fare & Lasciare) With Examples
- Giulietta GiordanoItalian linguist and tutor🎓 B.A., Western Languages - French and Italian, Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia🎓 M.A., International Relations and Languages, Bologna University
Full-time Italian teacher, tutor (online) and occasional writer.
Causative verbs are used where one person (or thing) causes another person (or thing) to do something.
For example, in English, we might say “I made him clean the room”. In this example, “made” is causative. Similarly, in a sentence like “she let him go”, “let” is causative.
The two causative (causativi / fattitivi) verbs in Italian are fare and lasciare.
The difference between fare and lasciare
Fare (to make) and lasciare (to let), allow us to express in Italian that someone has caused or allowed something to happen.
While fare implies making someone do something, lasciare involves letting someone do something.
The nuance here is between causing something and allowing something.
Faccio pulire la stanza a mia sorella.
Lascio mio fratello usare il computer.
Fare is an irregular Italian verb.
Here’s a quick conjugation table of the present indicative:
Fare as a causative verb is used to indicate that one person makes another person do something.
Lo faccio studiare.
Lasciare is a regular verb. Here’s its present indicative conjugation table:
“Lasciare” indicates that one person lets another person do something.
Lo lascio giocare.
There are many more conjugations for these verbs depending on their mood and tense. The tables above are for the simple present tense only.
Causative verbs and reflexive verbs
When using causative verbs with reflexive verbs in Italian, things can get a little tricky.
Reflexive verbs are verbs in which the subject of the verb is also its object. For example, lavarsi (to wash oneself).
In the case of fare, the reflexive pronoun becomes a direct object and matches the person who is caused to do the action.
Mi faccio studiare.
Ti faccio lavare.
Note that the reflexive pronoun must agree with the person being caused to do something, not with the subject of the sentence.
In the case of lasciare, the reflexive verb remains reflexive, and the reflexive pronoun matches the person who is allowed to do the action.
Mi lascio dormire.
Ti lascio lavarti.
It’s important to note that the reflexive pronoun in this case agrees with the person being allowed to do something, just as with fare, but the verb itself remains in its reflexive form.
These constructions can seem a little complex at first, but understanding these nuances is crucial in achieving fluency in Italian.
The Italian causative verbs are fare and lasciare.
As in English, one gives the nuance for making someone do something, whereas the other is for allowing someone to do something.
The common denominator here is causation (hence the name).
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