Fare: Conjugations and Useful Phrases

26th March 2024

Vacations, weather, and your hobbies… you’ll need FARE to talk about these things and more! Learn how to use this important Italian verb.


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By Katie Harris

Learning the verb fare is a bit like going to the market in Italy. 

You think you’re going for one thing, but you come away with a bag full of goodies! 

Fare is just one verb, but Italians use it in many, many different ways. This is good news because once you learn it, you’ll be able to say a lot in Italian. 

Here you’ll learn the main meanings and tenses of fare , followed by a list of everyday phrases you can slip into your next Italian conversations. 

This is an important lesson and you’ll need to fare attenzione, pay attention, so make yourself comfortable and let’s start! 

The Main Meanings of FARE

When I was first learning Italian, I didn’t know what to do with the verb fare and I made lots of mistakes! 

Speaking of ‘doing’ and ‘making', did you know that Italian only has one word for these? That’s right, it’s fare. For example: 

Fare qualcosa – To do something

Fare un errore – To make a mistake

Fare un lavoro – To do a job 

Fare una chiamata – To make a call 

Italians also use fare in many more everyday phrases, in ways you might not expect. Here are a few examples:  

Fare colazione – To have breakfast

Fare le vacanze – To go on vacation

Fare una foto – To take a photo

Fare una domanda – To ask a question

You’ll learn some more of these towards the end of this lesson, but for now, let’s look at the different verb forms. 

There’s a lot to take in so don’t feel like you need to learn everything at once. Start with what feels comfortable and think of this page as a reference tool: you can come back and review whenever you like! 

Conjugations of FARE: Present Tense

We’ll start in the present, because it’s the simplest tense, and you’ll use it a lot when travelling in Italy and talking to Italians! For example:  

– Cosa fate in Sicilia? – What are you doing in Sicily?

– Facciamo un tour delle cantine – We’re doing a tour of the wineries

Notice how the verb fare changes depending on who you’re talking about? Here’s how that works: 

Fare: Present Translation
faccio* I do; I make
fai you do; you make
fa  s/he does; s/he makes - you do; you make (formal)
facciamo we do; we make
fate you do; you make (plural, to two or more people)
fanno they do; they make

*In Italian, we normally omit the little words like I, you, he, she, we and they, because the verb already tells us who is doing the action. You can learn more about this here: Italian Subject Pronouns

FARE in The Past Tense

We spend a huge part of our lives talking about things we ‘did’, so you’ll need to know how to use fare in the past, too! In Italian, there are two kinds of past tense. In this section you’ll learn the difference and how to use them with fare. 

The Passato Prossimo (Finished Stuff)

We use this kind of past tense when talking about a short finished event. For example: 

Cosa hai fatto ieri? – What did you do yesterday? 

Ho fatto una lezione di italiano! – I did an Italian lesson! 

Let’s see the different forms, or ‘conjugations’ for everyone: 

Fare: Passato Prossimo Translation
Ho fatto  I did; I made
Hai fatto  you did; you made
Ha fatto  s/he did; s/he made - you did; you made (formal)
Abbiamo fatto  we did; we made
Avete fatto  you did; you made (plural, to two or more people)
Hanno fatto  they did; they made

Let’s see a few more examples: 

Scusi, abbiamo fatto un errore! – Sorry, we made a mistake!  

Hai fatto il caffè? – Did you make coffee? 

Ho fatto una lista di cose da fare a Roma – I made a list of things to do in Rome

The Imperfetto (Stuff That Was Ongoing in The Past)

We use this past tense for longer things in the past, like descriptions, ongoing situations and repeated actions. It doesn’t always translate neatly into English, but it’s often similar to ‘used to’. 

Mia nonna faceva la pasta la domenica

My grandma used to make pasta on Sundays

Che lavoro facevi quando vivevi in Italia?

What job did you (use to) do when you lived in Italy? 

Here’s how to use it with fare

Fare: Imperfetto Translation 
Facevo I used to do; I used to make
Facevi you used to do; you used to make
Faceva s/he used to do; s/he used to do/make - you used to do; you used to make (formal)
Facevamo we used to do; we used to make
Facevate you used to do/make (plural, for two or more people)
Facevano they used to do; they used to make

Good to know: the pronunciation of this tense can take a little getting used to at first! In some forms we emphasise the second syllable (CE), while in others we emphasize the third (VA): 

Fa CE vo

Fa CE vi

Fa CE vano 

Face VA mo

Face VA te

Fa CE vano

FARE in The ‘Gerundio’ (Stuff Happening Right Now)

Che stai facendo? What are you doing? You’re doing an Italian lesson! In English, to talk about something you’re doing right now, the verb ends in ‘-ing’. 

Let’s see how this works in Italian: 

– Cosa stai facendo? – What are you doing? 

– Sto facendo una foto al gelato – I’m taking (‘doing’) a photo of the gelato

We use a form of the verb stare (literally ‘to stay’) plus facendo. 

Fare: Gerundio Translation
Sto facendo I am doing; I am making
Stai facendo you are doing; you are making
Sta facendo s/he is doing; s/he is making - you are doing; you are making (formal)
Stiamo facendo we are doing; we are making
State facendo you are doing/making (plural, for two or more people)
Stanno facendo they are doing; they are making

Good news! Italians mostly use this form for emphasis. If you prefer to keep things simple, it also sounds perfectly natural to use the present: 

– Che fai con quella mozzarella?  – What are you doing with that mozzarella? 

Faccio del mio meglio per mangiarla! – I’m doing my best to eat it! 

FARE in The Future

We use the future to… well, talk about the future! Let’s see some examples: 

– In Toscana faremo tante belle cose. – In Tuscany we’ll do lots of nice things. 

– Farete un tour in bici? – Will you do a bike tour? 

Here are the future forms of fare

Fare: Futuro Translation
Farò I will do; I will make
Farai you will do; you will make
Farà s/he will do; s/he will make - you will do; you will make (formal)
Faremo  we will do; we will make
Farete you will do; you will make (plural, for two or more people)
Faranno they will do; they will make

More good news! Italians don’t use the future nearly as much as we do in English, so most of the time you can use the present, like this: 

Quest’estate faccio le vacanze in Italia

This summer I’m going on vacation to Italy

Even more good news! You’ve just seen the forms of fare that you’ll probably hear and use most often in Italian. If you’re feeling nerdy, you can find more conjugations of fare on wordreference.com

But for now, let’s stay focused on simple conversations and learn some handy everyday expressions with fare. 

Useful Phrases with Fare

Italians use this verb all the time, in ways that might not feel logical at first! For this reason, learners tend to avoid them, but if you make the extra effort, they’ll help you sound really Italian. 

If this list feels like too much right now, we suggest starting here with the most common phrases with fare and saving this page for future reference. 

Travel expressions

Fare un viaggio – to go on a trip

Fare il biglietto – to buy a ticket

Fare la valigia – to pack your suitcase

Daily life expressions

Fare shopping – to go shopping (clothes and other goods)

Fare la spesa – to do the shopping (groceries)

Fare una pausa – to take a break

Fare tardi – to arrive late

Weather expressions

Che tempo fa? – what’s the weather like? 

Fa freddo – it’s cold

Fa caldo – it’s hot 

Leisure expressions

Fare una passeggiata – to go for a walk

Fare un giro – to go for a stroll

Fare giardinaggio – to garden

Fare un brindisi  – to raise a toast

Let’s see a few examples in use: 

– Hai fatto il biglietto? – Have you bought your ticket? 

– Sì! Ora faccio la valigia. – Yes! Now I’m packing my suitcase. 

– Faccio un giro, voi che fate? – I’m going for a stroll, what are you (all) doing? 

– Facciamo shopping! – We’re going shopping!

In estate fa caldo in Italia – In summer it’s hot in Italy

– Faremo una pausa gelato tutti i giorni! – We’ll take a gelato break every day!

Common Mistakes to Avoid with FARE

As you can see from the list above, Italian phrases with fare can be very different from other languages! Translating directly from English can lead to mistakes. For example: 

Mangiare colazione – lit. “to eat breakfast”

È caldo – lit. “it’s hot”

In Italian, we say: 

Fare colazione  – to have breakfast (lit. ‘to do breakfast’)

Fa caldo – it’s hot (lit. ‘it does hot’)

Our advice? Don’t beat yourself up, it’s normal at first and Italians will usually still understand you. And try not to stress about the logic behind the differences as it will slow you down. 

Start by memorising the right way to say one or two phrases with fare that you’ll use often, then gradually layer on new ones. 

Fare Italian Verb: Review

Fare is one of the most important verbs in Italian. Its core meanings are ‘to make’ and ‘to do’, but it has many other uses too. Learning these will help you sound really natural when you speak. 

Here are some of the most common forms: 

Presente Passato Prossimo Imperfetto Gerundio Futuro
Io (I) Faccio Ho fatto  Facevo Sto facendo Farò
Tu (You) Fai Hai fatto  Facevi Stai facendo Farai
Lei/lui (S/he) -  Lei (You formal) Fa  Ha fatto  Faceva Sta facendo Farà
Noi (We) Facciamo Abbiamo fatto  Facevamo Stiamo facendo Faremo 
Voi (You plural) Fate Avete fatto  Facevate State facendo Farete
Loro (They) Fanno Hanno fatto  Facevano Stanno facendo Faranno

You also learned some handy everyday phrases to drop into conversation, for example: 

Fare un viaggio – to go on a trip

Fare una pausa – to take a break

Che tempo fa? – what’s the weather like? 

Fare una passeggiata – to go for a walk

Now you’re ready to fare una bella figura, to make a good impression, with your knowledge of the verb fare !

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti! Hi everyone and welcome to “Learn Italian with Joy of Languages”. 

M: If you’re listening to this on your podcast app could you do us a favour and hit the subscribe or follow button? This way you’ll get notified when we release new episodes and it helps us grow so we can keep making free lessons like this. Grazie! 

K: And here’s an example of a phrase with fare. Fare un favore (x2), to do a favour. There are two core meanings of fare which are ‘to do’ and ‘to make’. There’s no difference between ‘do’ and ‘make’ in Italian, so that’s one fewer thing to learn! 

M: But there are quite a few other situations where we use fare, too. Today, I’m going to tell a little story about something our dog Brody did. 

K: We’ll break it down line by line after, but first, how many phrases with fare can you hear? 

M: In estate fa caldo in Italia quindi facciamo le vacanze in Inghilterra, con Brody, il nostro cane. 

K: Brody adora stare fuori con mia mamma mentre fa giardinaggio. Ma un giorno sentiamo mia mamma urlare: Brooooody? Broooody! 

M: Panico… dov’è? Guardiamo l’altro lato della strada e c’è Brody tutta tranquilla. Sembra dire “Ciao! Faccio un giro, e voi? Che fate?” Non faremo più questo errore… 

K: So you heard: 

In estate fa caldo in Italia – In summer it’s hot in Italy 

In – In 

Estate – Summer

Fa – it does 

Caldo – heat

In – in

Italia – Italy

K: Here’s an example of how we use fare in Italian to talk about hot and cold weather. While in English we say ‘it’s hot’ or ‘it’s cold’, in Italian we say ‘it does heat’ or ‘it does cold’. It’s hot, literally ‘it does hot’ is: 

M: Fa caldo 

K: I know caldo sounds like ‘cold’! But it’s hot in Italian, so you just need to remember that it’s the opposite to how you would expect. Cold is freddo (x2). How would you say ‘it’s cold’, literally ‘it makes cold?’

M: Fa freddo 

K: Next, you heard: 

M: Quindi facciamo le vacanze in Inghilterra, – So we go on holiday, or on vacation as we say in the US, in England. 

Quindi – So 

facciamo – we do 

le – the 

vacanze – vacation

in – in 

Inghilterra – England

K: Here’s another example of a phrase with fare . Fare le vacanze, literally ‘to do the vacations’ means to go on vacation. Fare le vacanze. But in this sentence, Matteo said facciamo (x2), which means ‘we do’. Fare is the base form, which means ‘to do’ or ‘to make’ but we change it, depending on who or what we’re talking about. 

You’ve heard two forms so far: fa (x2) which is the third person. We use it to talk about what he does, she does, or it does (or makes). We’ll gradually talk more about these different forms as the story continues. I then said: 

M: Brody adora stare fuori – Brody loves to stay outside

Adora – she adores

stare – to stay 

fuori – outside

con mia mamma – with my mum

con – with 

mia – my 

mamma – mum

mentre fa giardinaggio – while she’s gardening

mentre – while 

fa – she does 

giardinaggio – the gardening

K: And here we have another expression with fare. Fare giardinaggio means ‘to garden’ or literally ‘to do gardening’

M: But here we said FA giardinaggio. It’s another example of how fa can mean ‘it does’ or ‘he does’ or ‘she does’. 

K: Then Matteo said: 

Ma un giorno - but one day 

ma – but 

un – one 

giorno – day 

sentiamo mia mamma urlare – we hear my mum shout

sentiamo – we hear 

mia – my 

mamma – my mum 

Urlare – shout

Brody? Broooody! 

Panico… – Panic

Dov’è? – Where is she? 

Guardiamo l’altro lato della strada – We look across the street. Literally: 

Guardiamo – we look 

L’altro – the other (l apostrophe altro)

Lato – side

Della – of the 

Strada – street 

e c’è Brody tutta tranquilla – and there’s Brody all calm 

e – and 

c’è – there is 

Brody – Brody  

Tutta – all  

Tranquilla – calm, literally ‘tranquil’

Sembra dire – it seems as if she’s saying. Literally: 

Sembra – she seems

Dire – to say 

“Ciao! Faccio un giro,  – Hi, I’m going for a stroll

Ciao! – Hi! 

Faccio – I do 

un giro – a turn

K: Here’s another expression with fare. Fare un giro, literally ‘to do a turn’, means to go for a stroll, to walk around outside, often with other people, without having anything specific in mind. Italians use this expression all the time, and it’s a nice example of Italian culture – strolling around and spending time with people is the activity. They don’t need to be busy doing something specific all the time. 

M: So the expression is fare un giro (x2). In this case Brody said faccio un giro. Literally ‘I do’ a turn. Faccio un giro (x2). 

K: So ‘I do’, or ‘I make’ is faccio (x2). There’s a double cc in there, so make that part nice and long. Fac-cio. 

M: I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw her like that, we were panicking and she was all nonchalant, like ‘oh ciao, fancy seeing you here’. 

K: Then Brody said: 

e voi? Che fate? – And you? What are you doing? 

e – and 

voi? – you? This is the plural ‘you’ when speaking to two or more people

Che – what 

fate? – you do? 

M: Here you heard fate, which means ‘you do’. Italian has a plural ‘you form’, it’s a bit like saying ‘you both’ or ‘you all’. But in Italian, it’s not optional: if there’s more than one person, you need to use this form. 

K: This exists in some dialects in English, too: in America there’s ‘y’all’ and in Britain we’ve got ‘yous’. So in Italian ‘you all or you both do’  is: 

M: Fate (x2). 

K: Now you’ve heard most of the different forms of fare in the present tense. Can you remember how to say I do

M: Faccio (x2). 

K: We haven’t heard the ‘you single’ yet. That’s fai, F-A-I. 

M: Fai (x2). Remember he, she or it does? 

M: Fa (x2)

K: And ‘we do’? 

M: Facciamo (x2). 

K: You plural do?

M: Fate (x2)

K: The last one, which we haven’t heard yet, is ‘they do’. Fanno. Here there’s a double N, nice and long: 

M: Fanno (x2)

K: Finally, Matteo said: 

Non faremo più questo errore…  – We won’t make this mistake anymore. 

Non – not 

Faremo – we will make 

Più – more

Questo – this 

Errore – mistake  

K: Here’s fare in the future. ‘We will make’, or ‘we will do’ is faremo. You heard it in the negative, ‘we won’t make’, non faremo. If you’re ready to learn more about how to use it in different tenses, you’ll find all the different forms over on our blog. For now, let’s listen to the story one last time: 

M: In estate fa caldo in Italia quindi facciamo le vacanze in Inghilterra, con Brody, il nostro cane. 

K: Brody adora stare fuori con mia mamma mentre fa giardinaggio. Ma un giorno sentiamo mia mamma urlare: Brooooody? Broooody! 

M: Panico… dov’è? Guardiamo l’altro lato della strada e c’è Brody tutta tranquilla. Sembra dire “Ciao! Faccio un giro, e voi? Che fate?” Non faremo più questo errore… 

K: If you want to learn more about how to use fare in Italian, with different tenses and lots of everyday phrases you can use in conversation, head over to our blog post by clicking the link in the description. You’ll also see everything from today’s lesson written down, and get bonus materials, like vocabulary cards and a quiz. 

M - See you next time.

K - Or as we say in Italian.

Alla prossima!

Time to check your understanding and remember everything you just learned! Below you’ll find a mini-quiz and some vocabulary cards to help it all go in.


How much did you learn? Find out in the quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Fare: Conjugations and Useful Phrases


Fa caldo = It’s hot (lit. it does heat)

Fa freddo = It’s cold (lit. it does cold)

Fare le vacanze = To take a vacation (lit. to do the vacations)

Fare un giro = To go for a stroll

Fare giardinaggio = To garden

Fare un errore = To make a mistake

Faccio un giro = I’m going for a stroll

Che fate? = What are you doing? (plural you)

In estate fa caldo in Italia = In summer it’s hot in Italy (lit. it does heat)

Flashcards: Fare: Conjugations and Useful Phrases

Remember the vocabulary from this lesson by downloading the flashcards.

Not sure how it works? Click here to watch the tutorial

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