I have read the following sentence in an Italian learning tool:

Lui mi fa indicare il piatto sul menu.

AFAIK "far fare qualcosa" means "to make do something", "to have do something" or "to let do something". I guess that "lui" is a waiter in this context, so IMHO the first meaning does not make sense because usually a waiter would not force a client to do anything. So the intended meaning here could be the second or third?

Also, Google Translate translated the sentence "He shows me the dish on the menu", which I think is, in fact, "Lui mi indica il piatto sul menu". Is Google Translate's translation correct? If so, what is the difference between "far indicare" and "indicare" here?

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    I am not a native English speaker, but my first shot at a translation would be "he had me point to a dish", which in my head sounds less like an obligation. Aug 26, 2019 at 6:27

2 Answers 2


I think a plausible translation can be "He (the waiter) suggests that I point to a dish on the menu" - possibily the image. "Mi fa" is exactly what you deduced, i.e. "make someone do something", which is not always something one is forced to do, as in this case. This is not a great example of the use of this phrase for learners, IMHO.

  • I didn't know at all that that "far fare" could mean "to suggest to do sth". I understand now that the Italian expression has many more usages than the English corresponding literal translation "to make do". Aug 26, 2019 at 4:40

Your guess is correct; Lui mi fa indicare il piatto sul menù is translated as:

He (the waiter) makes me show the dish in the menu

or even

He (the waiter) invites me to show the dish in the menu

That means that the waiter asked you to show what dish you want (maybe because he has not understood) and you are doing the action of showing the dish.

While Lui mi indica il piatto sul menù is translated as

He (the waiter) shows me the dish on the menu

which means that the waiter himself is doing the action of showing you a dish on the menu.

  • As I mentioned in my question, "the waiter make me shows the dish in the menu" seems an unlikely translation because a waiter usually does not force customers to do anything. Furthermore, IMHO "to ask/request to" fits better in English in this context than "to invite to". Could"far fare" could have those meanings too? Aug 26, 2019 at 4:38
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    If this were a request, then in Italian it would have been Lui mi chiede di indicare.... But there's no 'chiedere' in the original sentence. Riccardo is correct here. I would say "He has me point out the dish in the menu." I do agree that 'makes me' might sound a little bit forceful. Using 'has' is a little more neutral. Aug 26, 2019 at 8:51
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    @AlanEvangelista: Far(e) + verb is quite neutral. It means acting in such a way that the other person does the action described by "verb", be it asking, inviting, ordering them etc., as the case may be.
    – DaG
    Aug 26, 2019 at 9:05
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    For another example, Ti faccio sapere means, more or less, "I'll let you know", that is, I'll act in such a way that you'll know, not "I'll force you to know" etc.
    – DaG
    Aug 26, 2019 at 9:08

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