Letting Someone do Something: Italian Grammar Lesson 194

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Takeaways
Facts
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Key Takeaways

Unlock the secret to Italian fluency with our guide on the causative fare! Learn how to use the Italian verbs fare and lasciare to let someone do something with proper pronoun usage.✨

  • Structure and Meaning: Understand how fare and lasciare are used to let someone do something, highlighting the difference between pushing someone and making a concession.
  • Examples: Discover practical examples illustrating the use of fare and lasciare in everyday sentences, such as “My parents don’t let me go out” and “That noise doesn’t let me sleep.”
  • Pronoun Usage: Learn how to correctly use direct and indirect pronouns based on whether the main verb is transitive or intransitive, with detailed explanations and examples.
  • Linguistic Perspective: Gain insights into why the choice of pronouns differs depending on the syntactic and semantic properties of the verbs involved.
  • Imperative Form: Explore the imperative form of fare, including how to attach pronouns in informal and formal contexts, with a comprehensive table and examples.

Quick facts

How do you let someone do something in Italian?

Use the structure "fare + verb in the infinitive" or "lasciare + verb" to let someone do something in Italian.

What verb can replace "fare" to mean "let" in Italian?

The verb "lasciare" can replace "fare" to also mean "let" in Italian.

How do you say "My mum let his friend into the office" in Italian?

"Mia mamma ha fatto entrare in ufficio il suo amico."

What is the Italian phrase for "My parents don't let me go out"?

"I miei genitori non mi fanno uscire."

How do you express "That noise doesn't let me sleep" in Italian?

"Quel rumore non mi fa dormire."

How do you form the imperative "let me" in Italian?

Use "fammi" by removing "-re" from "fare" and adding a direct object pronoun.

What is the Italian imperative for "Let us get in"?

"Facci entrare!"

How do you say "Let him buy whatever he wants" in Italian?

"Fagli comprare quello che vuole!"

What imperative form is used for "Let her sleep" in Italian?

"Falla dormire!"

How do you say "Let me see what you wrote" in Italian?

"Fammi vedere cosa hai scritto!"

My Thoughts

How to let Someone do Something in Italian?

In the lesson about fare causativo, we learned how to make someone do something in Italian. To recap, we use this structure when we want to “push” someone to do something.

Just like in English, in Italian we also have a structure that we use when we want to let someone do something. In this case, there is none pushing anyone, but it is rather a concession.

Even if the meaning of these two structures is different in both languages, in Italian the structure is the same:

fare + verb in the infinitive.

However, fare can also be replaced by the verb lasciare,to express the meaning of letting someone do something.

Let’s then have a look at some examples where fare means to let and how we can use lasciare as well.

I miei genitori non mi fanno uscire. / I miei genitori non mi lasciano uscire

My parents don’t let me go out.

Quel rumore non mi fa dormire. / Quel rumore non mi lascia dormire.

That noise doesn’t let me sleep.

How to use “let (…)” in Italian?

The use of Pronouns

Whenever you want to use this structure, make sure you use the correct pronouns.

Whether you need to use a direct or indirect pronoun depends on the main verb. In fact, the verb fare behaves like an auxiliary verb, that only provides modal information about the sentence.

By this I mean that the verb “fare” does not add any further semantic information to the sentence: it cannot be literally translated into “to do”, because the actual meaning – or semantic information – of the sentence is given by the main verb.

For instance, in the sentence “mia madre non mi fa guardare la televisione” (my mum does not allow me to watch television) the verb “fare” adds no meaning to the sentence. The verb guardare, instead, is what we have to focus our attention on.

Therefore, you must look at the main verb of the sentence and know whether it is a transitive or intransitive verb, and this will allow you to know whether it needs a direct or indirect pronoun.

Paradoxically, the choice of the pronoun is the opposite in this structure: if the main verb is transitive, you need an indirect pronoun, and if it is intransitive, then you need a direct one.

For instance, the verb comprare (to buy) is a transitive verb. However, if I want to say that I let her buy something I will have to say:

Io le lascio comprare qualcosa.

I let her buy something.

  • In this case “le” is the indirect pronoun standing for “a lei” (to her).

Opposingly, the verb partire (to leave) is an intransitive verb. If I want to say that I let her leave I will have to say:

Io la lascio partire.

I let her leave.

  • In this case “la” is the direct pronoun.

Why Does This Happen? A Linguistic Perspective

The phenomenon regarding the choice of a direct or indirect pronoun is rooted in the syntactic and semantic properties of the verbs and how they interact with the structure of sentences involving the verb “fare”/”lasciare” (to let or to allow).

For the verb “comprare” (to buy), which is transitive, the usual construction would use a direct object for the thing being bought. However, when used in a construction with “fare”/”lasciare”, the focus shifts to the permission granted to the subject of the main verb.

In the sentence “io le lascio comprare qualcosa”, “le” (to her) is an indirect pronoun that refers to whom the permission is granted. This structure focuses on the action being allowed rather than on qualcosa (something), which is the object of the main verb.

In contrast, the verb “partire” (to leave) is intransitive and needs no direct object. When constructing a sentence with “fare”/”lasciare” and an intransitive verb to express the concession to perform an action, in Italian we use a direct pronoun that refers to the person being allowed to perform the action denoted by the main verb.

So, “io la lascio partire” translates to “I let her leave,” with “la” referring directly to her, emphasizing the allowance of the action itself rather than to whom the action is directed.

Imperative Form

The most common way we use this structure is when we want someone to allow us or someone else do something. In this case, we use the imperative form of the verb fare.

The imperative is used to give orders, instructions, and advice.

When you use the informal imperative form – when it is addressed to “tu” (you singular) – pronouns must be attached at the end of the verb. Instead, when you use the formal imperative form – when it is addressed to “lei” – pronouns must be precede the verb.

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However, it is important that you notice that the subject and the pronoun do not necessarily coincide. This means that I can address “you” singular to let me, him, her, us do something, but at the same time, I can address “you” plural to do the same.

The verb fare is irregular, so its conjugation is a bit tricky when it comes to using pronouns, but here is how it works:

Pronoun You Singular – Informal (tu) You Plural – Informal (voi) You Singular – Formal (Lei)
Direct
me Fammi
Fatemi
Mi faccia
ti Fatti Ti faccia
lo Fallo Fatelo Lo faccia
la Falla Fatela La faccia
ci Facci Fateci Ci faccia
vi Fatevi Vi faccia
li Falli Fateli Li faccia
le Falle Fatele Le faccia
Indirect
mi Fammi Fatemi Mi faccia
ti Fatti Ti faccia
gli Fagli Fategli Gli faccia
le Falle Fatele Le faccia
ci Facci Fateci Ci faccia
vi Fatevi Vi faccia
gli Fagli Fategli Gli faccia

As you can see, the distinction between direct and indirect pronouns is visible at the third person singular and plural only, since direct and indirect pronouns are the same for all the other persons.

Another interesting fact to notice is that, of course, not all combinations are logically and grammatically possible. This is why the form where “tu” singular is the subject and “voi” is the object does not exist.

Here are some examples:

Fagli compare quello che vuole!

Let him buy whatever he wants!

Facci entrare!

Let us get in!

Fatevi comodi!

Let yourselves comfortable!

Fammi vedere cosa hai scritto!

Let me see what you wrote!

 

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What is the imperative in Italian?

The Italian Imperative is the grammatical mood used to give commands, instructions, and advice. It can be used to politely or firmly demand someone to do something, suggest an action, or even scold someone.

Is "fare" an irregular verb in Italian?

"Fare" is an irregular verb that can be used in a range of contexts, such as when asking about someone’s job, hobbies, or leisure activities. It is an irregular verb, meaning that it does not follow the typical conjugation pattern of verbs ending in -are.

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16 Responses

  1. Here is your list. Is there a vi form? Let yourselves. Favvi?
    fammi: let me
    fatti: let yourself
    fagli, falle, fallo, falla: let him/her
    facci: let us
    fagli, falli, falle: let them

    1. Yes, for “you all”, that’s “fatevi”.
      For example: “Fatevi lavare la macchina a quell’autolavaggio” (Get your car washed at that car wash); “Fatevi dare la ricevuta” (Ask for a receipt, or Have them give you a receipt).
      However, I can’t come up with any examples meaning “to let”. It doesn’t sound natural to me.

    2. How about, “When you get there be sure to let yourselves in with the key”. Or to multiple guests, “Make yourselves comfortable.” I have seen that I’m sure: Fatevi comodi.

  2. Apologies for the typing error. What I meant was 
    I am told that “farmi capire” =” make myself BE UNDERSTOOD” rather than make myself understand.
    Please explain why that is so!

    1. Ciao Morton!

      “Farmi capire” is a reflexive verb. That means the actions reflect itself on the subject. In this case, fare a se stesso or fare a me (farmi is composed by the verb fare and the pronominal particle mi). That is why the meaning is make myself be understood.

      “Fammi capire” is fai capire a me (fare + me). The meaning is make me understand.

      Let us know if we solved your doubt or if you have more questions.

  3. Yes = grazie mille.
    I sent you another question which you have yet to answer.
    II am told that “farmi capper” =” make myself BE UNDERSTOOD” rather than make myself understand.
    I am afraid that just doesn’t make sense to me. Can you please explain?
    Grazie!

    1. Ciao Morton!

      We’ve seen your question and it’s been answered in your latest comment 🙂

    2. @julieta Grazie. OK – treating it as a reflexive verb explains why it is “to be understood”. However, consider these 2 sentences
      1. Puoi farmi vedere il tuo Ferrari
      2. Voglio farmi vedere dai miei amici con la mia Ferrari.
      Doesn’t the 1st one = ” Can you LET ME SEE your Ferrari” and the 2nd one  = ” I want TO BE SEEN by my friends with my  Ferrari”?
      It’s a bit confusing isn’t it when the written words  “farmi vedere” are the same in both sentences!
       

    3. Ciao Morton!

      I understand why it can be confusing for you. But think of it this way: try to compose the sentence “breaking” the reflexive verb to understand the meaning.

      The first sentence would be, Puoi far vedere a me la tua Ferrari? (minor correction: in Italian auto/macchina is a female noun). Can you make me see your Ferrari?

      And the second sentence would be, Voglio far vedere me nella Ferrari ai miei amici. I want to make myself be seen on the Ferrari by my friends.

      Remember that “farmi” is make myself.

      Let me know if it’s less confusing for you or not.

    4. @julieta Apologies for going on about this , but as it happens, I have just watched an Italian TV programme where the sentence “Faccio un altro pezzettino del disegno per farvi capire” was translated as “I’ll do another little piece of the drawing to help you understand”! So in this case, “farvi capire” means “make you (plural) understand” and NOT “make you (plural) be understood”!

    5. Ciao Morton!

      Don’t apologize, we are here to help you on your learning journey so ask all the questions you have!

      Let’s do a little recap before answering your question. Reflexive verbs in Italian come with pronominal particles. I will take as an example the verb Farsi.

      io mi faccio
      tu ti fai
      lei/lui si fa
      noi ci facciamo
      voi vi fate
      loro si fanno

      In the pronominal form it would be:

      Farmi: fare a me
      Farti: fare a te
      Farsi: fare a sé
      Farci: fare a noi
      Farvi: fare a voi

      So “Farvi capire” means fare capire a voi or as you wrote make you (plural) understand. It’s different from “farmi capire” = it’s me who is making myself be understood. While “farvi capire” it’s me who is explaining something to you (plural).

      Make you be understood would be “farsi capire”.

      Let me know if you have any more questions or doubts.

  4. Your lessons keep referring to a previous lesson. But give no clue how to go back to that lesson, or find it. The emails you send do not have the lesson number on the. All very unsatisfactory. Where is lesson 193 ? How could I locate it?

    1. Sorry, I just published it! Please check again. Thank you for telling me. 😛

    2. @stefano 
      You say that “fagli and falle are indirect object pronouns, and fallo and falla are direct object pronouns”
      So does that mean that when one wants to say let him/ her, it doesn’t matter whether one uses a direct  or indirect object pronoun for him/her?

    3. @morton-lim 

      Do these examples answer your question?

      1. E’ innocente. Fallo uscire!
        He’s innocent. Let him out! (direct objet)
      2. Fagli vedere il tuo disegno!
        Let him see your drawing! (= show him) (indirect object)

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