Faire mal à vs faire du mal à = to hurt someone

In French, there are two very close expressions to express the nuance between hurting someone physically and hurting them emotionally.

Look at these sentences:

Il va faire mal à ma meilleure amie.He's going to hurt my best friend. (physically)

Il va faire du mal à ma meilleure amie.He's going to hurt my best friend.  (emotionally)

Tu fais mal à ta sœur.You're hurting your sister

Laura a fait mal à Juliette.Laura hurt Juliette.

Tu as fait du mal à Paula quand tu as rompu avec elle.You hurt Paula when you broke up with her.

To express to hurt someone (physically) in French, you use the expression faire mal à + person. (literally to do hurt to)

To express to hurt someone (emotionally), you use the expression faire du mal à + person. (literally to do (some) hurt/damage to)

ATTENTION: 
To use both these expressions with to hurt me/you/him/her/us/you/them, you will use me/te/lui/nous/vous/leur before the whole expression in simple and compound tenses, and between aller and faire (du) mal in Le Futur Proche.

Je vais te faire du mal si je reste.I'm going to hurt you if I stay. (emotionally)

Je vais te faire mal si je reste.I'm going to hurt you if I stay.  (physically)

Paul me fait mal.Paul is hurting me.

Nous vous avons fait mal.We hurt you

Il va faire mal à ma meilleure amie.He's going to hurt my best friend. (physically)

Elle me fait du mal quand elle dit ça.She hurts me when she says that.

See also Position of object pronouns with infinitives 

 

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Examples and resources

Je vais te faire du mal si je reste.I'm going to hurt you if I stay. (emotionally)
Tu as fait du mal à Paula quand tu as rompu avec elle.You hurt Paula when you broke up with her.
Il va lui faire du mal, je le sens.He's going to hurt her, I can feel it.
Il va faire du mal à ma meilleure amie.He's going to hurt my best friend.  (emotionally)
Nous vous avons fait mal.We hurt you
Laura a fait mal à Juliette.Laura hurt Juliette.
Il va faire mal à ma meilleure amie.He's going to hurt my best friend. (physically)
Paul me fait mal.Paul is hurting me.
Tu fais mal à ta sœur.You're hurting your sister
Je vais te faire mal si je reste.I'm going to hurt you if I stay.  (physically)
Elle me fait du mal quand elle dit ça.She hurts me when she says that.
Vous allez lui faire mal.You're going to hurt him.
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