Italian Language Blog

Farcela Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

Here in Italy, we have a wealth of weird and wonderful idiomatic expressions. These expressions tend not to follow the logic of certain rules that you may have learned. Farcela is a classic example.

Farcela (to be able/to manage) is used very frequently in everyday Italian, so it’s important to learn how to use it in its most common conjugations.
As you can probably guess, farcela is based on the verb fare (to make/to do), the  ‘ce’ and ‘la’ having no particular significance apart from the sound and rhythm which they bring to the expression. Let’s have a look at some practical examples of its usage.

1. Infinitivo = Infinitive:
Temo di non farcela entro domani = I’m afraid that I won’t manage it by tomorrow.
Secondo lui riuscirà a farcela = According to him he will be able to manage it.
Ho deciso di farcela ad ogni costo = I’ve decided to manage it at all costs

2. Presente = Present Tense
If you want to ask someone the question ‘can you manage/are you able?’ you can simply use the phrase ce la fai?
If you wish to extend the sentence you need to add the preposition a before the infinitive of the main action, such as passare (to pass) in the following example: ce la fai a passarmi quella scatola lassù? = can you manage to pass me that box up there?
Here are some more examples in the present tense:
Ce la fate ad essere pronti per le otto? = can you [plural] manage to be ready by eight o’clock?
Questo tavolo è molto pesante, non so se ce la faccio a portarlo da solo = this table is very heavy, I don’t know if I can manage to carry it on my own
Se ce la facciamo, passiamo da Fabio prima di partire = if we can manage it, we’ll go by Fabio’s before we leave

3. Futuro = Future Tense
Non so se ce la faremo a fare tutta la spesa stamattina = I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all the shopping this morning
Ce la farà Giovanni a convincere Laura? = will Giovanni manage to convince Laura?
Ce la faranno Giovanni e Laura a stare insieme? = Will Giovanni and Laura manage to stay together?

4. Passato Prossimo = Present Perfect
Nonostante il ritardo, ce l’abbiamo fatta ad arrivare in tempo = Despite the delay, we managed to arrive on time
Cecilia non ce l’ha fatta a superare l’esame di guida = Cecilia didn’t manage to pass the driving test
La salita è stata dura ma ce l’ho fatta! = the climb was hard but I managed it!

N.B. as you can see in the above examples, the past participle in this idiomatic expression is always fatta, not fatto.

You can find a list of all conjugations of farcela HERE

Other Similar Idiomatic Expressions

Whilst we’re at it, here are a couple of other idiomatic expressions which share the same construction and rules as farcela.

Avercela = ‘to be upset with’ or ‘annoyed with’ someone, e.g:
Perché ce l’hai con Mario, che cosa ti ha fatto? = why are you annoyed with Mario, what’s he done to you?

Mettercela tutta = to do one’s best or to put everything into something, e.g:
Non so come è andato l’esame, ma ce l’ho messa tutta! = I don’t know how the exam went but I did my best!

Finally, here’s a song by the late Alex Baroni called Ce La Farò

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  1. Kathy Trim:

    Thanks Geoff! Great blog post. I love to read what you guys come up with, it brings my language studies to life. I suspect that farcela is actually descendant from the Latin. Faire ce là (pronounced the same, and often spoken all together) in French is actually the identical meaning ‘to do or manage that’. Faire is identical to fare, ce là is an indicative for ‘that.’ Ciao from Kathy in Ottawa, Canada

    • Geoff:

      @Kathy Trim Grazie per i complimenti Kathy!
      That’s a very interesting etymology, I wasn’t aware of the French version, but it makes sense.

      A presto, Geoff

  2. Gerry M Hancock:

    A really useful lesson with great examples -grazie mille

  3. Patty Azzarello:

    This article is very helpful. Can you explain when you would choose farcela or cavarsela? They both mean to handle or manage something but it seems they are used differently. thank you!

    • Geoff:

      @Patty Azzarello Salve Patty, farcela and cavarsela are similar but not synonymous.
      Cavarsela has the meaning of ‘to get by’ or ‘to get away with’, e.g.
      “Parli lo spagnolo?” … “Insomma, me la cavo!” (“Do you speak Spanish? … “Well, I get by!”)
      “La macchina è distrutta, ma Franco se l’è cavata con pochi graffi!” (“The car was destroyed, but he got away with a few scratches!”)

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

  4. Phil:

    Aha!!! Thanks for the wonderful explanation. One little question. Do the other constructions have the same use of the feminine of the past participle? For example, if you change the sentence to use the past participle using avercela, would it be:

    Perche ce l’hai avuta con Mario, che cosa ti ha fatto?

    And would “mettercela tutta” follow the same rule?



  5. Cecilia:

    Ciao Geoff! Ché interessante è il tuo post, grazie per le spiegazioni 😉 Cui in Messico ci sono due modi di dire che hanno somiglianza con questi del post:

    Facerla = hacerla

    Avercela = Traerla (con alguien)


    • Geoff:

      @Cecilia Molto interessante, grazie Cecilia! 🙂

  6. Shandra L Keller:

    Grazie mille, Geoff!! 😉

  7. Chris N:

    Grazie Geoff. Puoi anche spiegare / contrastare ‘farcela’ vs ‘farsela’?? (credo che ‘farsela’ ha una sfumatura di parolaccia?)

    • Serena:

      @Chris N Salve Chris!
      ‘Farsela’ has 2 main uses:
      1. “farsela sotto” or “farsela addosso” = to shit oneself!
      2. “farsela” a rude expression to describe having sex with a woman (la = her)
      So, I suggest you avoid the verb ‘farsela’ and stick with ‘farcela’ 😉
      Saluti da Serena

  8. Marian:

    Thanks a lot for this great blog on Italian, something the best. Your blog is very reach and you explain it in very simple and intelligent way. I have a question, I have found this sentence …Questo tavolo è molto pesante, non so se ce la faccio a portarlo da solo… Could it be written in CONGIUNTIVO? Questo tavolo è molto pesante, non so se ce la FACCIA a portarlo da solo? Thanks a lot once again.

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