Fare Conjugation: How to Say “To Do” in Italian

Fare means “to do” in Italian and learning its conjugation is one of the most important steps to learning Italian.

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Learning how to conjugate fare is one of the most important steps in your Italian journey, because it’s a verb you will find everywhere. Fare’s closest translation in English is “to do” or “to make” but Italians say this verb when talking about anything from sports and hobbies to everyday actions like having breakfast.

Discover how to conjugate fare in the most common tenses and moods, as well as some common idiomatic phrases that rely on fare.

What exactly does fare mean?

Before we get to the different tenses and moods of fare, you should understand that it’s not easily translated into English. Fare can be used to mean:

  • To do
  • To make
  • To create
  • To prepare
  • To commit/execute
  • To act as

Italians use fare for current actions someone is taking or has taken, but also to talk about jobs or hobbies. It’s also the verb to use when talking about the weather.

Unfortunately, fare is very irregular, and it won’t follow the normal conjugation rules of -are verbs that you’ve learned in our guide to conjugating Italian verbs. Instead, the only thing to do is memorize each conjugation by heart.

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italian verb fare

Present tense – indicativo presente

Let’s start with the present tenses with all conjugated verbs, it will have unique forms based on the pronoun – i.e. the person doing the action.

Here’s a chart that shows how fare conjugates to each of the six pronouns. The conjugated form of fare is in bold.

How to conjugate fare in the present tense

Italian pronoun + fare verb English translation
Io faccio I do
Tu fai You do
Lui /Lei fa He / She does
Noi facciamo We do
Voi fate You (plural) do
Loro fanno They do

Because every verb conjugates to the pronoun, Italians can leave out the pronoun so long as it’s understood who is being talked about. For example, often, Italians will say “Io faccio colazione” (I’m having breakfast) without io, becoming “faccio colazione”.

Now that we’ve seen the present tense forms, let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Che lavoro fa? (What does he/she do/what is his/her job?)
  • Che fai? (What are you doing?)
  • Faccio la spesa oggi. (I’m going grocery shopping today.)
  • Fanno una passeggiata. (They’re taking a walk.)
  • Fa freddo. (It’s cold.)

Pro-tip: Don’t confuse the third person present tense form of fare (fa) with the adverb of time fa (ago). Italians know which one you’re talking about based on context. For example: Sono stato in Italia quattro anni fa. (I went to Italy four years ago.)

We use this verb to talk about sports and free time activities. Here are some examples:

  • Fare yoga – to do yoga
  • Fare palestra – to go to the gym
  • Fare jogging – to go jogging
  • Fare nuoto – to go swimming
  • Fare danza – to take dance classes

Present perfect – passato prossimo

Italian has more than one past tense, and the first we’ll learn for fare is passato prossimo.

Right now, all you need to know is that this tense indicates the action has already begun and completed by the time of speaking. It’s also a compound tense, meaning it is constructed of two verbs: the verb avere + the past participle of fare, which is fatto.

To see examples, take a look at the chart below:

How to conjugate fare in the present perfect

Italian pronoun + fare verb English translation
Io ho fatto I have done
Tu hai fatto You have done
Lui /Lei ha fatto He / She has done
Noi abbiamo fatto We have done
Voi avete fatto You (plural) have done
Loro hanno fatto They have done

Here are sample sentences of passato prossimo:

  • Ho fatto i miei compiti. (I’ve done my homework.)
  • Hai fatto una domanda? (Did you ask a question?)
  • Abbiamo fatto un viaggio a Parigi. (We’ve taken a trip to Paris.)
  • Hanno fatto la fila per ore! (They stood in line for hours!)

Imperfect – imperfetto

The imperfect tense is the other Italian past tense that you will most often hear in conversations. This tense indicates an action that continued for a long or indefinite amount of time in the past.

Unlike passato prossimo, which is generally used for an action that happened once, imperfetto is used for past actions that happened often or continuously.

How to conjugate fare in the imperfect tense

Italian pronoun + fare verb English translation
lo facevo I did / I was doing
Tu facevi You did / You were doing
Lui / Lei faceva He / She did / He / She was doing
Noi facevamo We did / We were doing
Voi facevate You (plural) did / You (plural) were doing
Loro facevano They did / They were doing

It’s also commonly placed after the marker mentre (while). Take a look below:

  • Da piccola, facevo sempre castelli in aria. (When I was little, I was always daydreaming.)
  • Faceva del suo meglio. (He/she was doing his/her best.)
  • Non facevate mai attenzione. (You all never paid attention.)
  • Facevano sempre una frittata per gli ospiti. (They always made a frittata for guests.)
  • Mentre facevamo un giro, il cane ha distrutto un cuscino. (While we were taking a stroll, the dog destroyed a pillow.)

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Remote past – passato remoto

The Italian tense passato remoto indicates an action that happened a long time ago. Its use in everyday conversation has regional variations. For example, it is used on a daily basis throughout southern Italy and Tuscany. It is also commonly found in literature or history books.

See below for a table demonstrating the remote past:

How to conjugate fare in the remote past

Italian pronoun + fare verb English translation
Io feci I did
Tu facesti You did
Lui / Lei fece He / She did
Noi facemmo We did
Voi faceste You (plural) did
Loro fecero They did

Examples of passato remoto:

  • Allora facemmo amicizia facilmente. (We made friends easily back then.)
  • Il Tea Party di Boston fece arrabbiare la monarchia britannica. (The Boston Tea Party angered the British monarchy.)

Simple future – futuro semplice

The simple future tense or futuro semplice indicates an action that hasn’t happened yet. In English, this looks like “will” or “going to”. In Italian, the future tense can also express doubt or speculation.

How to conjugate fare in the simple future tense

Italian pronoun + fare verb English translation
Io farò I will do
Tu farai You will do
Lui /Lei farà He / She will do
Noi faremo We will do
Voi farete You (plural) will do
Loro faranno They will do

Let’s see how this tense looks in action:

  • Farò i compiti domani. (I’ll do my homework tomorrow.)
  • Farai la pasta oggi? (Will you make the pasta today?)
  • L’anno prossimo faranno ginnastica insieme. (They’ll do gymnastics together next year.)

Pro-tip: Many Italians skip the future tense in favor of the present tense – similar to how we might say “Are you making the cake today?” instead of “Will you make the cake today?”

Imperative – imperativo

Imperativo is the Italian tense for giving instructions, orders or advice. Imperative verbs are usually employed without the subject pronoun.

How to conjugate fare in the imperative mood

Fare verb English translation
Fai/fa’ Do!
Facciamo(lo) Let’s do (it)!
Fate Do!

The most common pronouns to hear this imperative mood with are the second person pronouns, tu and voi.

Note: If you are making a negative command, for the 2nd person singular you will use the infinitive (base form of the verb), which in this case is fare.

Here’s examples of imperativo:

  • Fate attenzione! (Pay attention!)
  • Fa’ silenzio! (Be quiet!)
  • Non fare tardi! (Don’t be late!)

Gerund – gerundio

Our last conjugation of fare is the gerund form. The gerundio expresses an action that is happening or continuing at the moment of speaking, or an action that is having consequences on another action. In English, this looks like “doing” or “making”.

Here’s how the gerund of fare translates in Italian:

How to conjugate fare in the gerund form

Present English translation Past English translation
Facendo doing Avendo fatto having done

Examples of fare in its gerund form:

  • Sta facendo la presentazione da solo. (He’s making the presentation alone.)
  • Avendo fatto un lungo viaggio, dimenticò com’era sentirsi a casa. (Having gone on a long trip, he forgot what it was like to be home.)

You’ll find the verb fare everywhere in Italian expressions, from everyday actions, sports, weather to idioms and more! Conjugating fare can take a little extra work because it’s irregular, but once you learn it, you can easily use it in Italian conversations.

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