Fare bene & fare male: how to use them

In this article, I will explain how to use two expressions with the verb fare which are often used in spoken Italian to show approval or disapproval towards something: fare bene & fare male

Fare bene expresses approval or satisfaction towards somebody. For example, a friend tells you that he quit his job because could not put it up with his boss anymore…

Amico: Sai, ho deciso di lasciare il mio lavoro in ditta..non ce la facevo più!
Tu: hai fatto bene, si vedeva che non stai più bene

(Friend: You know, I decided to quit my job at the company…I couldn’t stand it anymore!
You: you did well, one could see you were not well anymore)

Another example:

hai fatto così bene a cambiare casa, quel quartiere è diventato così pericoloso!
(you did so well to change home, that area became so dangerous!)

Also, depending on how much you want to emphasize your approval you can use

Hai fatto benissimo: you did incredibly well
Hai fatto molto bene: you did very well
Remember that fare bene is always followed by the preposition a and infinitive

Fare bene (ccordingly conjugated) + a + infinitive

In the same way, when you want express disapproval or dissatisfaction you can use the contrary expression fare male. Let’s see an example…

Amico: sono andato a Cuba in bassa stagione e ha piovuto tutto il tempo…
Tu: hai fatto male a scegliere un periodo di bassa stagione, è vero che costa meno, ma è molto più probabile che piova

(Friend: I went to Cuba and it rained all time long..
You: you made a mistake by choosing low season time to go there, it is true that cheaper, but there is better chance to find a poor weather)


ho fatto così male a comprare quel vestito così costoso…non ne valeva la pena!
(I made a big mistake by buying that very expensive dress…it was not worth it! )

Fare male (accordinly conjucated) + a + infinitive

Depending on the level of your disapproval, you can use

Hai fatto malissimo : you made a huge mistake
Hai fatto molto male :you made a big mistake

Fare bene & Fare male in different contexts 

You might have heard the combinations fare bene and fare male in a different context and with a different meaning.

It’s the case when we want to say that something is good or bad for our physical and mental health. In this case, they are used in the third person singular e plural. Let’s some examples

fumare fa male  (smoking is not good for you health)
fare attività fisica fa molto bene (working out is good for your health)
mangiare almeno 5 frutti al giorno fa benissimo alla salute (eating at least 5 fruits a day it’s very good for your health)

Finally, if you want to say that something is hurting you, just use the expression

mi fa male + singular body part
mi fa male la schiena: my back is hurting


mi fanno male + plural body parts
mi fanno male le gambe: my legs are hurting