How to use “fare bene / male”: Italian grammar lesson 100

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fare bene italian
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Fare bene and fare male in Italian

fa bene fa male italian

If you are learning the Italian language, you have surely heard the expressions fare beneand fare male.

Literally, they mean to “do good / well” and to “do bad / badly”.

In this lesson, we will learn what they mean in different contexts and how to use them correctly in spoken Italian.

Let’s first look at some examples:

Hai fatto bene a trasferirti, questa città è proprio noiosa.

You did well to move, this town is so boring.

Abbiamo fatto male ad uscire ora, sta iniziando a piovere.

We made a mistake by going out now, it just started raining.

Molti studi hanno dimostrato che mangiare la carne fa male.

Many studies showed that eating meat is bad for the health.

Fare esercizio fisico fa bene.

Exercising is good for the health.

As you have probably noticed, there are two main contexts in which this expression can be used to approve or disapprove of something, or to talk about the effects of doing something to the health.

Let’s look at these two cases separately.

Fare bene / male: expressing approval or disapproval

fare male a italian

If you tell someone: fai bene a, you are expressing a positive opinion: you are satisfied with their action and you approve of it. It was the right decision.

Abbiamo fatto bene a scegliere questa pizzeria; la pizza è buonissima!

We did well to choose this restaurant; the pizza is really good!

Secondo te ho fatto bene a parlare con Piero?

Do you think I made the right decision in talking to Piero?

As you can see in the examples, this construction is always used with fare bene a + verb in the infinitive (infinito).

The same construction applies to fare male. So, to express a negative opinion about someone’s (or your own!) actions, and convey the idea it was a bad decision or a mistake, you can use fare male a + verb in the infinitive (infinito).

Fai male a lasciarla, te ne pentirai.

You are making a mistake in leaving her, you will regret it.

Jhoan ha fatto male a licenziarsi, ora sarà difficile trovare un altro lavoro.

Jhoan made a mistake in leaving his job, now it will be hard to find another one.

Fare bene / male: health related

fa bene alla salute

Another way you can use the expression fare bene and fare male is when talking about the effects of an action on health.

  • Something / doing something + fa bene alla salute

Bere molta acqua fa bene alla salute.

Drinking a lot of water is good for the health.

Gli esercizi di yoga fanno bene.

Yoga exercises are good (for you).

In this case, you can even omit the words alla salute (for the health), and the meaning stays clear.

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If you use male, of course, the meaning is the opposite.

Fumare fa male.

Smoking is bad for the health.

Le bevande zuccherate fanno male alla salute.

Sugary drinks are bad for the health.

Have you noticed? Here the verb fare must agree with the “thing” that is bad or good for the health.

If it is a verb or a singular noun, use fa, if it is a plural noun, use fanno.

Mi fa male: it hurts

mi fa male italian

I am sure you have also heard the expression mi fa male. This is used to talk about a pain that you or someone else is experiencing.

Just choose the indirect pronoun according to the person who is experiencing the pain and add fa male if the thing that hurts is singular, or fanno male if the thing that hurts is plural.

Mi fa male un dente.

My tooth hurts (I have a toothache.)

Gli fanno male i piedi.

His feet hurt.

Ci fanno male le gambe.

Our legs hurt.

Vi fa male la schiena?

Do you have back pain?

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