FARE BENE and FARE MALE: how to use them
This article will explain the meaning and use of two common Italian expressions using the verb FARE.
Fare bene and fare male
These two often appear in colloquial Italian with different meanings.
The most common ones are
- to show approval or disapproval to someone – hai fatto bene a prendere un giorno libero!
- to mean that something is good or bad for us – passare troppo tempo seduti fa male!
- to say that some part of our body is sore (just fare male) – mi fa male la schiena!
Let’s see them in context.
Showing approval and disapproval to someone
- Hai fatto male a cambiare quartiere!
- Abbiamo fatto bene a prendere alcuni giorni di vacanza!
Fare bene expresses approval or satisfaction towards somebody. For example, a friend tells you that he quit his job because he could no longer put up with his boss.
- Sai, ho deciso di lasciare il mio lavoro in ditta..non ce la facevo più! – You know, I decided to quit my job at the company…I couldn’t stand it anymore!
- Hai fatto bene, si vedeva che non stai più bene – you did well, one could see you were not well anymore
- hai fatto così bene a cambiare casa, quel quartiere è diventato così pericoloso! – You did so well to change house, that area became so dangerous!
Also, depending on how much you want to emphasize your approval, you can change the sentences like in the following examples:
- 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 an infinitive verb.
Fare bene (accordingly conjugated) + a + infinitive
Similarly, when you want to express disapproval or dissatisfaction, you can use the contrary expression fare male. Let’s see an example…
- a) Sono andato a Cuba in bassa stagione e ha piovuto tutto il tempo… b) Hai fatto male a scegliere un periodo di bassa stagione, è vero che costa meno, ma è molto più probabile che piova – a) I went to Cuba, and it rained all the times….b) you made a mistake by choosing low season time to go there, it is true that cheaper, but there is a 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 costly dress…it was not worth it!
Rember the correct pattern…
Fare male (accordingly conjugated) + a + infinitive
Depending on the level of your disapproval, you can say
- Hai fatto malissimo – you made a huge mistake
- Hai fatto molto male – you made a big mistake
WHEN SOMETHING IS GOOD OR BAD FOR US
- bere troppo fa male alla salute
- studiare una lingua fa bene alla mente
We can use fare bene (or male) in Italian in a different context to mean that something is good or bad for our physical and mental health.
In this case, the expressions are used in the third person singular e plural.
Let’s see some other examples
- fumare fa male – smoking is not good for your health
- fare attività fisica fa molto bene – working out is good for your health
- mangiare almeno cinque frutti al giorno fa benissimo alla salute – eating at least five fruits a day it’s very good for your health
WHEN SAYING THAT A PART OF YOUR BODY IS ACHING
- mi fanno male i denti!
- mi fa male la gola!
Finally, if you want to say that a part of your body is sore or aching, the most common way to put it in Italian is by using the combination fare male, used in the third person singular and plural.
Learn the models…
mi fa male + singular body part
mi fa male la schiena – my back is sore (or I have back pain)
mi fa male la testa – I have a headache
mi fa male la pancia – I have a stomachache
mi fanno male + plural body parts
mi fanno male le gambe – my legs are hurtin
mi fanno male i piedi – my feet are sore