french expressions with faire

20 Key French Expressions with Faire

In French, as in every language, there are certain expressions which crop up time and again.

If you really want to speak French like a local, you should probably think about committing these to memory.

The verb faire (to make/to do) is certainly featured in many expressions. Used in relation to everyday life, illness, social interactions and the weather, there’s rarely a conversation that goes by in which you don’t need to use the verb.

Read on to find 20 essential French expressions with faire!


1. Faire la fête

Literal translation: To do the party

Meaning: To party

If you’re going out with friends in France or are invited to a French party, it’s likely that you’ll hear the expression on va faire la fête  (we’re going to party). As with many English language expressions, there’s no direct equivalent in French so in this case, they use faire colloquially to describe an action that they’re going to do or are doing.

J’ai beaucoup fait la fête la semaine dernière et je suis fatigué.
(I partied a lot last week and I am tired.)

2. Faire attention

Literal translation: To do attention

Meaning:  To pay attention, to be careful

If you’re ever amongst parents and young children, it’s likely that you’ll hear this expression being passed around a lot. If someone warns you to fais attention, they’re telling you to watch out, or to be careful with what you’re doing. 

If you want to warn someone to faire attention to something in particular, you can follow it with à, à la or aux, depending on the thing you’re describing.

Fais attention aux voitures dans la rue !
(Be careful of the cars on the street!)

3. Faire le ménage

Literal translation: To do the household

Meaning: To do the housework, to do the cleaning 

When you’re first learning French, this is a particularly good expression to remember and use and is also one of the most common in the language used to describe doing the housework or the cleaning. 

C’est pas juste ! Chaque jour, je dois faire le ménage tout seul !
(It’s not fair! Everyday I have to do the housework on my own!) 

Many processes around the house are also used alongside faire and can be constructed in the same way such as:.

Faire la lessive (to do the laundry)

Faire le repassage (to do the ironing)

4. Faire la grasse matinée

Literal translation: To do the fat morning

Meaning: To sleep in, to lay around in the morning

Having a fat morning might equate to being lazy or lazing around the house, something that seems lacking in energy. You might hear French natives using the slang expression faire la grasse mat’, which is used to express the same thing.

Ce week-end, je vais faire la grasse matinée, c’était fatigant cette semaine.
(This weekend, I will lay around, this week was tiring.)

5. Faire la tête

Literal translation: To do the head

Meaning: To be in a bad mood

While you might have guessed the literal meaning of this expression, the reality that it expresses might not be so clear at first. If you hear this expression, someone is probably describing being in a bad mood or describing someone else who’s sulking. If you hear it in relation to yourself, watch out!

Il était très malpoli aujourd’hui. Je pense qu’il fait la tête.
(He was very rude today. I think he is in a bad mood.)

6. Faire beau / Faire mauvais

Literal translation: It makes beautiful/It makes bad

Meaning: The weather is good/The weather is bad

Sometimes, faire is used to describe things in the environment and if you want to understand the weather, it’s worth paying closer attention to the verb. If someone exclaims that il fait beau aujourd’hui , they’re probably talking about the good weather that you’re having. The expressions faire beau or faire mauvais are used to express having good or bad weather during the day.

Je suis super content aujourd’hui—il fait vraiment beau !
(I am really happy today—the weather is really beautiful!)

7. Faire froid / Faire chaud

Literal translation: To make cold / To make hot

Meaning: To be cold / To be hot (when talking about the weather)

Like the expressions above, faire froid and faire chaud are also important expressions that you’ll come across in everyday life when talking about the weather.

Il fait froid dans les Trois Vallées en hiver.
(It’s cold in the Three Valleys in winter.)

Il fait plus chaud que d’habitude à Paris.
(It’s hotter than usual in Paris.)

8. Faire la sourde oreille

Literal translation: To make a deaf ear

Meaning: To turn a deaf ear

This French expression is a little more unusual and unless you’re well accustomed to the language, it’s unlikely that you’ll have heard it before. Once you pick it up, however, you can really begin to show off your French!

If you fais la sourde oreille , it means that you’re not listening to someone else’s advice or conversation when they’re trying to get through to you. As in English countries, doing so is very rude, so be careful not to have this expression used against you!

Je lui ai téléphoné ce matin, mais il a fait la sourde oreille.
(I called him this morning, but he turned a deaf ear.)

9. Faire de la peine à quelqu’un

Literal translation: To do the pain to someone

Meaning: To hurt someone, to make someone feel sad

If you’ve been learning French for a little while, you might be able to determine what is being said by this expression.

Faire de la peine à quelqu’un is used to describe hurting someone, or making them feel sad. Like its English language equivalent—it saddens me—the expression is rarely used in colloquial conversation and might be more commonly found in formal French or French literature.

Il m’a boudé toute la journée, ça me fait de la peine.
(He ignored me all day, it makes me sad.)

10. Faire des économies

Literal translation: To do the savings

Meaning: To save 

If you’re a student in France, it’s likely that you’ll want to take this expression and use it to your advantage, especially if you’re living in one of the bigger cities!

Faire des économies isn’t just applicable to financial issues. If you want to save on your water, energy or shopping habit, you can use this expression to share your intentions with others. If you’re worried about money and want to seek financial advice, this expression might come in particularly useful!

Je voudrais aller en vacances donc je dois faire des économies.
(I would like to go on holiday, so I must save.)

11. Faire la bise

Literal translation: To make the kiss

Meaning: To greet someone with a kiss on both cheeks

Non-French people usually cringe at the thought of the bise and unless you’ve grown up kissing strangers, doing so can feel like a really strange habit. Faire la bise literally means “to make the kiss,” but is used to describe the specific cheek kissing greeting that French natives will do to one another when they meet and part.

While it’s common to give two kisses (one on each cheek), some people will go in for three or four, so it’s worth paying attention to! Failure to do the bise can also result in a French person believing you to be really rude so it’s always worth using it to say both hello and goodbye to someone.

Il était très malpoli ! Il n’a pas fait la bise.
(He was very rude! He didn’t greet me by kissing.)

12. Faire le pont

Literal translation: To make the bridge

Meaning: To take a long weekend

While this exact translation doesn’t exist in English, if you speak any other Romantic languages, you might recognize this expression. In Italian, it is translated as fare il ponte , and in Spanish, hacer puente , both literally translating into English as “to make the bridge.”

Faire le pont is used when someone takes a day off alongside a public holiday to therefore “make a bridge” to the weekend. In English, we would say that someone is taking a long weekend.

Comme le mardi était un jour férié, j’ai décidé de faire le pont et de ne pas travailler le lundi.
(As Tuesday was a public holiday, I decided to take a long weekend and not work on Monday.)

13. Faire dodo

Literal translation: To do sleep, to do beddy-byes

Meaning: To go beddy-byes, to go to sleep

In this French expression, the verb dormir  (to sleep) is shortened to become dodo .

Faire dodo is used in the same way as “to go beddy-byes” in English, and while it’s most commonly used by parents to their children, you may also hear some adults use this expression.

C’est l’heure de faire dodo.
(It’s time to go beddy-byes.)

14. Faire le mur

Literal translation: To make the wall

Meaning: To sneak out, to go out without permission

This expression refers to someone sneaking out or going somewhere without permission.

When translated literally, faire le mur makes us think of someone trying to jump over a wall in an attempt to sneak out or escape without others knowing.

Il a fait le mur pour aller au parc avec ses amis au lieu de faire ses devoirs.
(He sneaked out to go to the park with his friends instead of doing his homework.)

15. Faire du cinéma

Literal translation: To do/make cinema

Meaning: To make a scene, to put on an act

The expression faire du cinéma is often used negatively in French when someone is making a scene or exaggerating.

For example, you might believe that the person you are talking to is overreacting to something or creating problems for attention.

La femme était contrariée et a fait du cinéma parce que le magasin n’avait pas son produit préféré en stock.
(The woman was upset and made a scene because the store didn’t have her favorite product in stock.)

16. Faire du stop

Literal translation: To do/make the stop

Meaning: To hitchhike

The literal translation of the expression faire du stop is “to do/make the stop,” which means “to hitchhike.”

If you’re planning on backpacking through France or another French-speaking country, this expression is useful to learn!

En raison de la tempête, tous les bus ont été annulés et les touristes n’avaient d’autre choix que de faire du stop pour retourner en ville.
(Due to the storm, all buses were canceled, and the tourists had no other option but to hitchhike back to the city.)

17. Faire son beurre

Literal translation: To make your butter

Meaning: To make money 

In English we say that we make “dough” (money), in French, however, they “make butter.” 

This faire expression is often used to refer to someone making a living (earning money) or being successful in terms of their career.

Après des années d’auditions, le jeune homme a enfin pu abandonner son ancien travail et faire son beurre en tant qu’acteur à Paris.
(After years of auditions, the young man could finally give up his old job and make a living as an actor in Paris.)

18. Faire la une

Literal translation: To do/make the front page

Meaning: To make the headlines/to be on the front page

In French, la une means “front page,” and so faire la une refers to something making the headlines or front page of a newspaper.

This verb could be used to talk about anything making it to the front page of a newspaper, such as an important news story or even a feature about a successful movie or person.

While this verb is mostly used to refer to the front page, it can also be used for other stories that have gained attention from the media.

L’incroyable histoire du sauvetage du pompier a fait la une des journaux nationaux et internationaux pendant des semaines.
(The firefighter’s incredible rescue story made headlines in both national and international news for weeks.)

19. Faire le grand saut

Literal translation: To do the big jump

Meaning: To take the plunge

If you’re making an important (and potentially risky) decision and decide to give it a chance, then you faire le grand saut, which literally means “to do the big jump.”

A similar expression in English would be “to take the plunge.”

This can be used to talk about any significant change, such as changing jobs, moving, starting a business, etc.

Elle a décidé de faire le grand saut et de deménager à l’étranger pour étudier le français.
(She decided to take the plunge and move abroad to study French.)

20. Faire un tabac

Literal translation: To make/do tobacco

Meaning: To be successful, to be a hit

Faire un tabac is a popular French expression used to say that something is successful, like the English phrase “to be a hit.”

For example, this expression is commonly used when talking about the success of a movie or an album.

L’adaptation cinématographique a fait un tabac grâce au travail du réalisateur et de l’auteur du livre.
(The movie adaptation was a hit thanks to the work of the director and the author of the book.)

Why Learn Expressions with Faire?

Faire is one of the most common verbs

Out of all of the verbs, faire is one of the ones that you’ll use in most forms of conversation. Describing a whole variety of different activities, it’s normally one that beginners learn fairly early on, opening up the door to a whole load of useful expressions and sayings. Getting to know a few less common expressions using faire can really help you in your language comprehension and will show just how flexible the verb can be.

It’s conjugated irregularly

Unlike other verbs ending in “re,” faire is conjugated in a slightly different way and it pays to learn the differences. As you’ll use it so often, it’s easy to get a hold of and will soon become second nature to you! Using the verb in the present tense is the first step you’ll take, and it can be conjugated in the following way.

PronounFaire conjugation
Je fais
Tu fais
Il/Elle/On fait
Nous faisons
Vous faites
Ils/Elles font

Its meaning can vary

Unlike other verbs whose meanings are fixed in place, faire can change according to how and when it’s used. While it’s commonly used to express either “to do” or “to make,” the circumstances in which these verbs can be used varies a lot between French and English. While you might use faire to describe doing the food shopping—je fais les courses—you might also use it to say that you’re riding a bike—je fais du vélo. Seeing a number of different expressions used with faire will help you to begin to understand exactly how it might be used.

You could try immersing yourself in French media to see how this verb is used in context by native speakers. For example, you could look for the verb in French news, or you could use an immersion program like FluentU to search for the verb and see it used in videos and example sentences.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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It’s used in many common French expressions

Luckily, the amount of expressions out there that use faire is huge; there’s always something to learn. Unlike English, which might use a variety of different verbs to describe activities and actions, many French expressions rely on the versatility of faire to do the explaining. By learning a few new phrases each day, you can begin to really get to grips with the French language and master faire.


Getting to grips with faire and all of its variations can give you a serious boost in the language and help you on the road to your French language goal.

Incorporating a few new expressions into your routine might really freshen up your conversation and lead to new areas of conversation. Like all other languages, the expressions native to France vary hugely and showing some understanding of how they work will really set you apart from other learners.

There’s a whole world of faire expressions out there. Why not pick a few up today?

And one more thing...

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FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:


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