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As far as I understood "fatti fare" would translate as "let me (do something)", as in:

"Fatti fare una foto.”

Translation: "Let me take a photo."

However, my question is, how does one translate this expression literally? What is "fatti" in this exact context?

Thank you so much!

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    It's the imperative with an attached pronoun: “fa' fare a te una foto” – egreg May 28 '19 at 8:53
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    @egreg I think there's more to say about this construction; it's highly idiomatic and it isn't easy to translate it to a different construct 1:1. For instance, would you also transform "fatti mandare dalla mamma" in "fa' mandare a te dalla mamma"? Why can one say "fatti fare una foto", where "ti" is the indirect object of "fare una foto", but also "fammi fare una foto", where "mi" is the subject? – Federico Poloni May 29 '19 at 10:01
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    @FedericoPoloni That's why I didn't provide an answer. – egreg May 29 '19 at 10:06
  • You can find something about the constructions with fare + infinitive of a verb (in this case, again fare) in this previous answer of mine. – DaG May 30 '19 at 7:58
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This could have two meanings, depending on the context.

This statement literally means "Make it so that a photo is taken of you". Or, less literally but more understandably "Have someone take a photo of you". (The someone is implied. i.e. "Fatti fare una foto da qualcuno" )

If you're standing in front of the Colosseum and I'm standing near you, I could say "Dai! Fatti fare una foto" to mean "This is a great shot, let me take a photo of you."

If you're in front of the Colosseum and you're on the phone with me (I'm not present at the Colosseum), I could say "Fatti fare una foto" to mean "Have someone take a photo of you in front of the Colosseum". That way you can send it to me.

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  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Jun 2 '19 at 7:34
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I think it may be useful to distinguish two usages.

In the first usage you are requesting (I use the word request even though the request can be emotionally loaded, for example you may be spurring the other person) the other person to be an "active agent".

Some idiomatic examples are: -Fatti forza! (Literally "make yourself some strength"), meaning "be strong" but also used when you would say "forge ahead" in English. -Fatti vivo! (Literally "make yourself alive") meaning something like "keep in contact" but you give the other person the burden to contact you.

But you also have the more straightforward sentences like: -Fatti dire chi è la spia. (Get him to tell you who the spy is)

On the other hand you can use it to request the other person to be a "passive agent".

-Fatti guardare (let me look at you) -Fatti dare un consiglio (let me give you a piece of advice)

Note that in this case you use the construction "fatti+verbo (all'infinito presente)"

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    Apparently you didn't answer the specific OP's question («What is "fatti" in this exact context?»). – DaG May 30 '19 at 7:55
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    And I'd mention was “fatti” actually is (fa' + ti, and the function of ti). – DaG May 30 '19 at 7:59
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    Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo May 30 '19 at 9:00

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