Causative Construction


  1. Lawless French - Causative Construction

What is Causative Construction

The causative is a grammatical construction with a lazy subject who, rather than performing some action himself, is making someone or something else do it. The causative may be called le causatif, la construction causative, la situation causative, or la structure causative in French, and is equivalent to "make something happen" or "have something done."

In action

The French causative is formed with three to four components:

  1. Faire conjugated according to the subject
  2. Action verb in the infinitive
  3. Agent and/or Recipient

Agent only

Subject + faire + infinitive + agent (direct object) = the subject is making the agent do something.

Je fais étudier mes enfants chaque soir.I make my kids study each night.
Je me fais étudier chaque soir.I make myself study each night.

Recipent only

Subject + faire + infinitive + recipient (direct object) = the subject is making something happen, having something done to the recipient.

Nous allons faire garder les enfants.We’re going to have the kids babysat, have someone babysit the kids.

Agent and Recipient

Subject + faire + infinitive + recipient + par or à + agent (indirect object) = the subject is making the agent do something to the recipient.

Note: Only the third construction includes a preposition in front of the agent; that is, only when there is an agent as well as a recipient. The preposition is what lets you know which person is the agent and which is the recipient.

Je fais faire ses devoirs par / à Jean.I make Jean do his homework.
Nous allons faire faire des vêtements.We’re going to have some clothes made.


AgentJ’ai fait sortir Jacques.I made Jacques go out.
RecipientJ’ai fait sortir les valises.I had the suitcases taken out.
A + RJ’ai fait sortir les valises par / à Jacques.I had Jacques take the suitcases out.