Which to use when: facere vs. agere?


New Member
Our group has been taught facere for 'to make' or 'to do' but what about agere? In which contexts should each be used, or doesn't it matter?


New Member
Ago, agere, egi, actus has many meanings:

drive, lead, chase, urge, set in motion, rob, accuse, impeach, excite, prompt, etc.


Errans is correct regarding ago; it has many shades of meaning beyond simply "make".

The difference between the two is that ago is a more "active" form of doing/making (the english cognate "act" captures this). Facere is more like "bring into being, create (out of parts)" (the english semi-cognate "fashion"--as in to fashion a clay pot--captures the idea).

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
I know that this is an "old" thread, but I wanted to add my two cents...especially for those who might encounter this via an internet search. I think another difference, in complementary conjunction with that which Cato noted, is that agere renders a more continuative sense of action/doing/performing than does facere. Facere refers more to a particular instance or act of doing/performing, which sense is rendered by agere only in the pefect participle actus. Agere gives more a sense of regular or continuative performance or behavior, much as faciō would do if it were made a frequentive verb with the form facitō. I think that such a hypothetical facitō might be a more direct synonym of agō than is faciō, don't you all think? Then, furthering the continuous sense of agō, the existing verb agitō, frequentive of agō, renders a further sense of continuity...really a sense of constancy or persistence (or, perhaps, insistence?) of action or impetus... In summation, then, I believe that, in order of the continuity/regularity of the verbal action, we have: facere ("to do/make" as an instance) > agere ("to regularly do/make") > agitāre ("to insistently or persistently do/make").
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Active Member
@Michael Zwingli explained very well, so could only add quotes from dictionaries:

Agere, Facere et Gerere hoc differunt, quod agere et corporis, et vocis, et mentis agitatum comprehendit. Facere tantum refertur ad opera, quae corpore efficimus. […] Ita agit is, cuius post actionem opus non exstat, ut actor, saltator, cantor, commentator. […] Facit is, cuius opus remanet, ut scriptor, statuarius, pictor, aliique.
Agere has an effect that exists in time only, like to do; facere, an effect that exists in space also, as to make.
(agere) does not express, as facere does, the principle, author, nor a single act of producing; but a series of cares and a continued activity
There are several computer dictionaries of synonyms easy to check.
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