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To Make

Learn how to translate "to make" into French


"To make" is a very general, very useful verb in English. Its French translations vary wildly, so take a look at this lesson to learn how to translate various meanings of "make" into French.

The general sense of "to make" is translated by faire.

   Je fais un gâteau
   I'm making a cake

   Fais ton lit
   Make your bed

   Il a fait une erreur
   He made a mistake

"To make" in the sense of producing something is fabriquer, while in the sense of building it's construire. To talk about forcing someone to do something (e.g., Make me!), use obliger or forcer.

Faire vs Rendre

When "to make" means "to cause to be/feel" you usually* need faire when it's followed by a noun in French, and rendre when it's followed by an adjective.

   Cela me fait mal
   That makes me feel pain, That hurts (me)

   Tu me fais honte !
   You make me feel so ashamed!

   Cette pensée fait peur
   That thought makes me scared, It's a frightening thought

   Cela me rend heureux
   That makes me happy

   Le poisson m'a rendu malade
   The fish made me sick

   C'est à te rendre fou
   It's enough to make/drive you crazy

*For the following nouns, you need the verb donner:

   donner soif à quelqu'un
   to make someone thirsty

   donner faim à quelqu'un
   to make someone hungry

   donner froid à quelqu'un
   to make someone (feel) cold

   donner chaud à quelqu'un
   to make someone (feel) hot

Because all of the above are adjectives in English, you might have a little trouble deciding if the French word is a noun or an adjective. The solution is to think about which French verb it needs to mean "to be." Nouns need avoir (avoir mal, avoir soif) while adjectives need être (être heureux, être malade).

Faire causatif

When "to make" is followed by a verb, use faire:

   Cela m'a fait penser
   That made me think

   Il me fait faire la vaisselle
   He's making me do the dishes

Expressions with Make

Many expressions that include "to make" in English are translated by completely different verbs in French:

to make angry fâcher
to make an appointment donner/prendre rendez-vous
to make believe (pretend) faire semblant
to make a decision prendre une décision
to make do se débrouiller
to make friends/enemies se faire des amis/ennemis
to make the grade y arriver
to make (someone) late mettre quelqu'un en retard
to make a meal préparer un répas
to make money gagner de l'argent
to make sure s'assurer, vérifier
to make tired fatiguer
to make up
(invent) inventer, fabriquer
(after a fight) se réconcilier
(with cosmetics) se maquiller
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