English grammar - causative have

- - Causative


have + object + verb 3 past participle - have something done
have + object + infinitive - have someone do something


  1. We use causative when arranging for someone to do something for us.
    • They had their car repaired.
      They arranged for someone to repair it
    • They repaired their car.
      They did it themselves
    • I had my hair cut yesterday.
      I went to the hairdresser
    • I cut my hair yesterday.
      I cut it myself
  2. We use causative when someone does something to us.
    • Bill had his money stolen.
  3. We can use have someone do something to talk about giving instructions or orders (more common in American English).
    • I had my assistant type the report.
    • I'll have my lawyer look into it.

Additional points

  1. Get is possible instead of have, usually in informal spoken English.
    • I'm going to get my car fixed tomorrow.

Ideas for teaching causative

How do you teach causative? Add your idea ยป

I ask students to imagine they were rich and could have all sorts of things done for them, annoying everyday chores that nobody likes doing plus some luxury pampering that money allows for.

I give a few examples of my own:

I'd have my nails done once a week.
I'd have my garden weeded and my lawn mowed.
I'd have my bedroom redecorated in beautiful oriental sumptuous colours and fabrics.
I'd have the evening meal cooked by a professional cook.
I'd have my shopping done and the house cleaned from top to bottom every two days.

This would leave me time to do the things I enjoy, like reading, chatting to friends, going for walks and playing tennis.

I give each student a drawing of a town, with lots of different businesses. I first elicit what each business does (i.e. in the hair salon they cut your hair, at the mechanic they fix your car... etc) to check vocabulary. Then I introduce the grammar and ask what you can have done in each - in the hair salon I can have my hair cut, at the mechanic I can have my car fixed, etc.

I write the following sentence on the board: I have my hair cut every week.

1. Elicit the FORM from the students (have/has + noun + past participle)
2. Use the following concept questions to elicit YES or NO:
Do I cut my hair? Ss: NO
Does somebody else cut my hair? Ss: YES
Do I pay money? Ss: YES
3. If you cut your hair yourselves, how would you say that? I elicit: I cut my hair.
4. Elicit that every week expresses "a habit", and have is in the present simple tense.
5. Write the following on the board: house/clean and elicit I have my house cleaned.
Of course I repeat the concept questions to make sure that my students grasp the new structure, and I have them drill it (whole class/individuals).
6. Written practice. Houcine

In a previous class I ask my students to tell me about the services they need and the establishments that are near their homes or the ones they usually go to. According to the information they give, I elicit the services and I write on the board some examples like

My computer is not working, I need to get it fixed.

I ask my students to go out of my classroom with me and pretend that they are school inspectors. The students are asked to mention all the problems they see in the school. They find out problems in teams like:

The pool is dirty, the steps are chipped, the handrail is scratched.

When we go back to the classroom, they must give a solution to all the problems they saw or identified. We all check the answers and correct them as a group. As a follow-up activity, I ask them to check the problems they see in their house and give solutions for homework.

I hope you like this idea. This is a real effective communicative activity.
Prof. German Albavera

Family - friends and favours.
Students work on the importance of working as a team inside the family so the house and errands are done on time. They comment about how friends help each other in good and bad moments. They make posters with lists of things the get/have done by others. They choose which favour was the most memorable.

"3 people have had money stolen from their offices"
This looks like causative but uses "have" + "had". Anybody know how to teach this use?

Al - this is causative in the present perfect. I'd suggest teaching it in conjunction with "Have you ever..." type questions.

I usually ask my students to think about the things they don't like or don't know how to do by themselves. Then I ask them how they manage to get them done, I repeat some of the first answers with the causative form. Then the rest of the students are asked to model according to the new type of sentences I have introduced.

I ask the class who is scared of going to the dentists. Then I tell them all the work I had done when I was young (6 teeth out, a brace for 2 years, now I'm having my wisdom teeth out) and put them in pairs to tell their partners how much dental work they've had done (extra vocab too).

Then you can elicit a few modal sentences from one of the students, put it on the board and clarify the form and meaning.

In changing it into the active it can be quite funny, as you can't really take our own wisdom teeth out. You can even bring in some gory pictures! :)

I use pictures of a dress, hair, a car and a house and ask how these things are made: are they made by our hands or other people's hands? I elicit answers from the students and present the rule to them after writing 3 or 4 examples on the board. I give extra examples focusing on the tense of each sentence (present - past).

I put on the board pictures showing a.)broken down car b.)mechanic repairing it. Then I say: I had a problem with my car and took it to the mechanic and write on the board:
"I had my car fixed". Then ask: a.)did I fix it? Students answer "No" b.)did the mechanic fix it? Students answer "yes" c.)did I pay for it? They answer "yes". Finally I write on the board the form of causative.

I ask students to imagine that they are rich and can have all sorts of things done for them. I give a few examples of my own: I'd have my shopping done and house cleaned! (this could also be combined with 2nd conditional)

I show ss pictures of someone having their hair cut or getting a sink repaired, etc.. I model 3 examples, then I elicit, using other visuals as a cue. Then I write on the board one example with "have" someone do the job, and one with "get" someone to do the job. Have ss analyze the difference, then have a question-answer drill.

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