Faire Conjugation: How to Use the Common French Verb

When it comes to French verbs, faire is one of the most important to learn. The fourth most frequently used verb by the French, it essentially means “to do” or “to make”. It’s also present in a number of important phrasal verbs and common expressions.

In addition to being a big, important verb, faire is irregular, too (of course).  But that doesn’t have to make it scary.

Let’s have a look at faire, from how to conjugate it in different tenses, to some of the most common ways it’s used – and when not to use it!

How to conjugate faire

Let’s start with the basics.  Faire is, as I’ve said, an irregular verb, so there isn’t really a pattern to follow; you have to memorize and practice conjugating it. 

The good news is, because it’s such a commonly used verb, you’ll hear, read, and use it often, so at least you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice – and you’ll have even more opportunities to get it down with the French Together app.

Here’s how to conjugate faire in the most common French verb tenses.

Faire present tense conjugation

What it means: do, make


Example sentence : Je fais du yoga chaque matin. (I do yoga every morning.)

Faire passé composé conjugation

What it means: did, made

Note: Avoir is the auxiliary verb used with faire

J’ai fait
Tuas fait
Il/elle/ona fait
Nousavons fait
Vousavez fait
Ils/ellesont fait

Example sentence : Tu as fait un gâteau délicieux ! (You made a delicious cake!)

Faire imperfect conjugation

What it means:

used to/would do/make; was/were doing/making


Example : Quand ils étaient petits, à la plage ils faisaient toujours des châteaux de sable ; quand ils y vont aujourd’hui, ils préfèrent ne rien faire. (At the beach, when they were little, they always made sandcastles; when they go today, they prefer to do nothing.)

Faire future tense conjugation

What it means: will do/make


Example : Que ferez-vous à Londres ? (What will you do in London?)

Faire conditional conjugation

What means: would do/make


Example : Je ferais du sport seulement si cela me faisait immédiatement perdre des kilos. (I would only do sport if it made me lose weight right away.)

Faire subjunctive conjugation

What it means: that [subject] do/make (expressing a wish or hypothetical situation)


Examples: Je veux qu’elle fasse ses propres devoirs pour une fois ! (I want her to do her own homework for once!)

Imperative forms of faire

Who doesn’t want to know how to give orders?  Here’s how to do that with faire:

Fais (tu)

Example : Fais-moi rire ! (Make me laugh!)

Faites (vous)

Example : Faites un dessin de vos animaux préférés. (Make a drawing of your favorite animals.)

Faisons (nous)

Example : Faisons le ménage, puis nous pouvons regarder la télé. (Let’s do the housework, then we can watch TV.)

Conjugations of less common tenses of faire

These verb tenses aren’t used as frequently in everyday spoken or written French, but they are useful to know – and in many cases, to use:

Faire plus-que-parfait conjugation

j’avais fait
tu avais fait
il/elle/on avait fait
nous avions fait
vous aviez fait
ils/elles avaient fait

Faire passé simple and passé antérieur (literary past tenses) conjugations

Passé simplePassé antérieur
je fisj’eus fait
tu fistu eus fait
il/elle/on fitil/elle/on eut fait
nous  fîmesnous eûmes fait
fvous fîtesvous eûtes fait
ils/elles firentils/elles eurent fait

Faire futur antérieur and futur proche (future compound tenses) conjugations

Futur antérieurFutur proche
j’aurai faitje vais faire
tu auras faittu vas faire
il/elle/on aura faitil/elle/on va faire
nous aurons faitnous allons faire
vous aurez faitvous allez faire
ils/elles auront faitils/elles vont faire

Faire conditionnel du passé conjugation

Conditionnnel du passé
j’aurais fait
tu aurais fait
il/elle/on aurait fait
nous aurions fait
vous auriez fait
ils/elles auraient fait

Faire passé du subjonctif, imparfait du subjonctif, plus-que-parfait du subjunctif conjugations

Passé du subjonctifImparfait du subjonctifPlus-que-parfait du subjonctif
j’aie faitje fisseje eusse fait
tu aies faittu fissestu eusses fait
il/elle/on ait faitil/elle/on fîtil/elle/on eût fait
nous ayons faitnous ayons fissionsnous eussions fait
vous ayez faitvous ayez fissiezvous eussiez fait
ils/elles aient faitils/elles fissentils/elles eussent fait

How do French people use faire?

Faire is a really useful verb for people learning French, since you can use it to fill in for so many other verbs you might not know yet.

For example, faire is perfectly fine to use for “make” or “create”, but as your French vocabulary expands, you can replace it with verbs like fabriquer, créer, inventer, and so on.

And you actually should do this, if you can. Unlike most native English-speakers, French-speakers tend to respect and seek out precision.

For most French people, it’s better to say Elle m’a cousu une robe (She sewed me a dress), than Elle m’a fait une robe (She made me a dress.).  

There are some cases, though, where faire is always used – there is no more precise or nuanced alternative. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Phrasal verbs with faire

There’s a seemingly endless number of phrasal verbs and expressions that use faire.

Well, okay, not endless this source, for example, counts 676.

Here are some of the most common phrasal verbs with faire that you’ll come across, with examples for the ones that might seem a bit confusing:

  • faire l’amour – to make love
  • faire attention – to pay attention/watch out.  Il ne fait jamais attention à sa copine. (He never pays attention to his girlfriend.)  Fais attention ! C’est chaud ! (Be careful! It’s hot!)
  • faire chier – An obscene expression to indicate something has annoyed you. For information on how to use this phrase, check out our post on French swear words.
  • faire confiance – to trust/To have faith in.  Il va m’aider, je lui fais confiance. (He’s going to help me, I trust him.)
  • faire connaissance – to get to know someone or something. Nous avons fait connaissance lors d’une soirée arrosée. (We met during a wine-soaked evening.)
  • faire les courses– to run errands
  • faire croire – to make someone believe something. Un homme politique doit faire croire au peuple qu’il agit toujours pour leur bien. (A politician must make the people believe that he always acts with their wellbeing in mind.)
  • faire demi-tour – to turn back
  • faire dodo – A childish way to say “go to sleep”.  A popular phrase to show the repetitiveness of the working life is Métro, boulot, dodo. (Metro, job, sleepytime)
  • faire du bruit – to make noise
  • faire des économies – to save something (usually money).  Je ne vais pas au restaurant ce soir – je dois faire des économies. (I’m not going to the restaurant tonight – I have to save money.)
  • faire des emplettes – to do a little shopping
  • faire la fête – to party
  • faire une fleur – to do someone a favor.  I love the imagery here, of literally making someone a flower!
  • faire gaffe – A more informal way to say faire attention (pay attention, watch out). Fais gaffe à ce gros trou. (Watch out for that big hole.)
  • faire la grasse matinée (sometimes shortened to faire la grasse mat’) – to sleep in.  Literally, “to make the fat morning.”
  • faire le/la [noun] – Faire le fou, Faire l’idiot, Faire le con – to act like a/an.  Arrête de faire le clown ! (Stop acting like a clown!/Stop clowning around!)
  • faire la manche – to beg (for money)
  • faire mouche – to hit the nail on the head
  • faire la part des choses – to see things objectively.
  • se faire passer pour un/une/des – to seem like a/an/some. Parfois quand je suis fatiguée, je me fais passer pour quelqu’une qui ne parle pas français. (Sometimes when I’m tired, I make myself seem like someone who doesn’t speak French.)
  • faire de la peine à quelqu’un – to hurt someone emotionally. Ce pauvre chien perdu – il me fait de la peine. (This poor lost dog makes me sad.)
  • faire le pont – to take a day off that’s before or after a long weekend, making that weekend even longer. This is a French tradition!
  • faire la queue – to wait in line
  • faire semblant de  – to pretend.  J’aime faire semblant d’être une princesse. (I like to pretend to be a princess.)
  • faire la tête/faire la gueule – to sulk.  The word gueule is slightly vulgar in French, so opt for faire la tête in mixed company.
  • faire un tour – to take a walk.
  • avoir mieux à faire – to have better things to do. J’ai mieux à faire que de t’attendre.  (I’ve got better things to do than wait for you.)
  • en faire tout un fromage – to make a big deal out of nothing. Je n’ai pas trouvé cette série extraordinaire, mais tout le monde en fait tout un fromage !  (I didn’t find this TV series extraordinary, but everyone is making such a big deal about it!). Note: This expression isn’t necessarily extremely common, but it’s so awesome that had to be included on this list!
  • en faire toute une histoire – Similar to en faire tout un fromage; to make a whole production of something.
  • n’en faire qu’à sa tête – someone who only does what they want.  Je lui ai dit de ne pas passer la nuit dans la maison hantée, mais elle l’a fait quand même.  Elle n’en fait qu’à sa tête. (I told her not to spend the night in the haunted house, but she did it anyway.  She only does what she wants.)
  • se faire (cela ne se fait pas) – Expressing something that is “done” (custom, tradition).  For example : Dire « salut » au lieu de « bonjour » à un copain, cela se fait.  But the expression is often used in the negative sense : Dire « salut » au lieu de « bonjour » au Président, cela ne se fait pas.
  • se faire – to get/have something happen to you.  Il s’est fait voler sa montre. (He got his watch stolen.)
  • se faire beau/belle – to make oneself look good. Je me suis fait belle pour mon rencard ce soir. (I dolled myself up for my date tonight.)
  • s’y faire – to accept/get used to it/be resigned to it. Pour parler couramment français, il va falloir pratiquer beaucoup.  Je m’y fais.

Common ways to use faire

To describe a quantity of time

Faire is often used to show a certain amount of time that has passed.

When you think about it, it makes sense in a way; if someone said “This makes five minutes that we’ve been waiting,” it’s not correct English but you can understand what it means – and you may even have heard a native French speaker learning English, say something like this.

Cela fait cinq minutes que nous attendons. (We’ve been waiting for five minutes.)

Cela fait huit ans qu’il enseigne l’anglais. (He’s been teaching English for eight years.)

To describe dimensions

In a similar vein, when you talk about the total of measurements, you use faire. 


Cet appartement fait 50 m2. (This apartment is 50 square meters).

L’étagère fait 100cm de long, 120cm de large, et 40cm de profondeur. (The shelf is 100cm long, 120cm wide, and 40 cm deep.)

Using faire as “equals” in mathematics

Example: 3 et 3 font 6.

This is more common than another French mathematical expression you might see or hear, 3 plus 3 égal 6.

Expressions involving the weather

Quel temps fait-il ? (What’s the weather like today?)

Il fait beau. (It’s nice outside.)

Il fait chaud. (It’s hot.)

Il fait froid (It’s cold.)

There are some exceptions, so be careful if you’re describing unfamiliar weather expressions.

For example, if you’re in a place where it doesn’t snow very often (which is actually the case for Paris, though global warming is changing that a bit), you’ll need to remind yourself to say simply, Il neige.

You can find a helpful list of French weather vocabulary here.

Using faire to make someone do something 

For example: Elle lui a fait faire tous ses devoirs. (She made him do all her homework.)

You’ll also hear things like, Je me suis fait coiffer (I got my hair done.), which is actually a bit similar to English.

Other fairly common examples include : Il a fait construire une maison. (He had a house built.)

Il s’est fait construire une maison. (He had a house built (for himself).)

Nous avons fait venir l’électricien. (We called the electrician (literally, ‘We made the electrician come.’))

Faire in cooking expressions

Many of the instructions in French recipes use faire.

For example: Faire fondre du beurre (Melt butter)…Faire revenir les oignons (Brown the onions)… etc.

Faire as a noun

In some expressions, faire is used like a noun, rather than a verb.

The two best-known examples of these have even crossed linguistic borders and are used in a number of different countries.

Our international vocabulary stars are…

laissez-faire and savoir faire

Faire-part (Birth/death/engagement/etc. announcement) is another one you’ll often see in French.

Don’t get emotional: When not to use faire

Although faire means to do/make, and although we’ve seen that it can be used to talk about making other people do something, it CANNOT be used with feelings.

For example, Cela me fait triste, Elle le fait heureux, and so on, are incorrect. The verb to use with making people feel a certain way is rendre.  So, the correct versions of those sentences are: Cela me rend triste/Elle le rend heureux.

Once you get the basics, faire will come easily.

You may be feeling overwhelmed by faire’s many uses. But don’t worry!

As you study and (hopefully) enjoy French more, and start watching French TV shows, movies, YouTube clips, reading French books, websites, newspapers, practicing with the French Together app, and so on, you’ll come across faire so often and used in such a myriad of ways, that you’ll end up absorbing the knowledge without even realizing it.

For example, I distinctly remember learning about faire and memorizing a number of its most common phrasal verbs and general uses, in school or even when I started living in France.

But I had no idea when I learned that ça fait comme is another way to say ça ressemble à. It’s just an alternative use I picked up by osmosis.

Things like this will happen to you, too, as you dive deeper into French. Ne t’inquiète pas – ça va se faire (Don’t worry – it will happen)!

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.