Fare and lasciare, when followed by other verbs, are called causative verbs, because they cause or allow actions to be carried out by others. Here are some examples in English.
- I had the car washed.
- I made my husband do the dishes.
- The film made you cry.
- I need to get my hair cut.
In English, we use the verbs to have, to get, to make and to let to convey this external agency acting upon another agent. In Italian, you use fare and lasciare.
Compare the Italian and English sentences below.
|I had the car washed.||Ho fatto lavare la macchina.|
|I made my husband do the dishes.||Ho fatto lavare i piatti a mio marito.|
|The film made you cry.||Il film ti ha fatto piangere.|
|I need to get my hair cut.||Devo farmi tagliare i capelli.|
✽ The nouns that follows the verbs are objects of the verb (in Italian, complementi). If there is only one object of the verb (as in the sentence Ho fatto lavare la macchina), this object is a direct object (in Italian, un complemento diretto). In this case, the most common word order for the sentence is for the two verbs to go together. The first verb is the appropriate form of fare, while the second verb (the action that is caused), is left in the infinitive. Following that infinitive, is the direct object of the verb.
✽ In the second example, above, there are two elements considered “objects.” The first is the object towards which the action is directed (in this case, the dishes that have to be washed); that object is the direct object (complemento diretto). The second object refers to the person who is being made to carry out the action on the direct object. (In this case, my husband.) This second object is an indirect object, (in Italian, un complemento indiretto). You can identify mio marito as an indirect object by the inclusion of the preposition a directly before it. Also in this case, the common word order is for the verbs to come first (e.g. fare lavare), followed by the direct object, followed by the preposition a + the indirect object.
✽ If you are using pronouns in place of nouns, they must go before the conjugated form of fare, as in the third example: Il film ti ha fatto piangere.
Substituting pronouns for nouns in the first two sentences results in the following:
Ho fatto lavare la macchina. –> La ho (L’ho) fatta lavare.
Ho fatto lavare i piatti a mio marito. –> Glieli ho fatti lavare.
✽ Recall that when using the passato prossimo and a direct object pronoun in the same sentence, you must make the ending of the past participle agree with the direct object pronoun; hence, fatta in the first example (agreeing with la) and fatti in the second (agreeing with li)
If you need to review direct and indirect object pronouns, read here.
The verb lasciare is used in the same way to mean to let someone do something. With lasciare, the person who is made to do something (or allowed to do something) is not an indirect object (as is the case with fare), even when the thing done has a direct object of its own. For example:
|My sister let me drive her car.||Mia sorella mi ha lasciato guidare la sua macchina.|
|She let me take it to the beach.||Me l’ha lasciata portare in spiaggia.|
|I let my friend pick the restaurant.||Ho lasciato il mio amico scegliere il ristorante.|
✽ Because lasciare used as a causative verb does not take indirect objects, there is no preposition a in front of il mio amico, as there would have been with fare.
Fare with Reflexive Verbs
Sometimes you will need to refer to having something done to or for yourself.
- I got my hair cut.
- They got their parents to pay for their car.
- I have my mom wash my laundry for me.
This situation calls for the use of reflexive verbs in Italian. The structure of the sentence is the same as before, with the reflexive pronoun appearing in the same place in the sentence that the direct or indirect object pronoun did: right before the verb. In compound tenses (like the passato prossimo), you should use essere (rather than avere). If there is no direct object pronoun, the ending of the past participle agrees with the subject; if there is a direct object pronoun, the end of the past participle agrees with the direct object.
|I got my hair cut.||Mi sono fatta tagliare i capelli.|
|I got it cut.||Me li sono fatti tagliare.|
|They got their parents to pay for their car.||Si sono fatti pagare la macchina ai loro genitori.|
|They got their parents to pay for it.||Se la sono fatta pagare ai loro genitori.|
|I have my mom wash my laundry for me.||Mi faccio fare il bucato da mia madre.|
|I have my mom wash it for me.||Me la faccio fare da mia madre.|
✽ To indicate the person or business that you are having do something for you, you may use the preposition da in addition to a.