English grammar – Causative

Form

have + object + verb 3 (past participle) – have something done
have + object + infinitive – have someone do something

Meaning

  1. Causative is used 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. Causative is also used when someone does something to us.
    • Bill had his money stolen.
  3. have someone do something can be used 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

Get is possible instead of have, usually in informal spoken English.

  • I’m going to have my car fixed tomorrow.
  • I’m going to get my car fixed tomorrow.

Related grammar points

Passive

Keith Taylor
Keith is the co-founder of Eslbase. He has been a teacher and teacher trainer for over 20 years, in Indonesia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Poland, France and now in the UK.

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Comments

  1. 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, for example:

    In the hair salon I can have my hair cut, at the mechanic I can have my car fixed. etc.

    Reply
    • Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • Yeah really great idea!

      Reply
  2. 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.

    I repeat the concept questions to make sure that students grasp the new structure, and drill it (whole class/individuals).
    6. Written practice.

    Reply
  3. 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! :)

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. it is right to say
    I had my house painted ?

    Reply
    • Hi T.I.

      Yes, that sentence is correct.

      Reply
    • remember to start your question with “is” instead of “it” :3

      Reply
  6. I’m sure this can help my conversation class study well. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Is saying
      Did marvin had his hair cut?
      Correct?

      Reply
      • “Did Marvin have his hair cut?” is correct.

        In a yes/no question we don’t put the main verb into the past tense, because the auxiliary verb “Did” shows us the tense.

        Hope that helps.

        Reply
        • Why you didn’t use “has”?
          “Did Marvin has his hair cut?”

          Reply
          • Hi Parsa

            When we make a question in past simple, the auxiliary verb “did” is in past simple, and the main verb goes back to the base form (have).

            I hope this helps.

  7. What would be the correct answers here?

    A: John looked different somehow.
    B: He_______________ . (his hair)(cut)
    A: Yes, and I think he ___________________ . It looked much smarter! (his jacket)(cleaned)

    Reply
    • A: John looked different somehow.

      There are a few possibilities for this. For example:

      B: He has had his hair cut.
      B: He must have had his hair cut.
      B: Maybe he had his hair cut.

      A: Yes, and I think he had his jacket cleaned. It looked much smarter!

      Reply
  8. What’s the answer?
    He wants to fix his car. ( use : had).

    Reply
    • You could try:
      “He wants to have his car fixed”.

      Reply
  9. How would it be with the following examples?

    – I didn’t see them. They went away for their summer holidays.
    – We may have the day off and perhaps we might go to U2 concert.
    – She doesn’t want to talk to me. so I can’t help her.
    – Maggie was in the garden. Therefore, her dinner burnt.
    – Paul is sad because he can’t see his friends due to coronavirus.

    Reply
    • Hi Geraldine – what kind of sentences do you want to change these to?

      Reply
  10. Please make clear my concept.

    1. She always has me do her work.
    2. She always have me do her work.

    Which one is gramatically correct?

    Reply
    • This one is correct:
      1. She always has me do her work.

      I have
      You have
      She has
      We have
      They have

      Reply
  11. Hi, so I was in the middle of my English class, and we were learning about the Causative Form, and my teacher said that the sentence “Did you get the car serviced yesterday?” was incorrect because of the “did”, but that’s not correct, is it?

    Reply
    • “Did you get the car serviced yesterday?” looks correct to me!

      Reply
  12. Hi
    please which among the two is correct?

    1. I’ve not fixed the room
    2. I’ve not fix the room

    Reply
    • I haven’t had fixed the room. Or
      I didn’t have fixed the room

      Reply
      • “I haven’t had the room fixed” is correct.

        Reply
  13. Thanks for your information it’s very helpful for me, keep sharing these types of information.

    Reply
  14. Are the following sentences correct?

    1. I have my assistance call the client.
    2. I have my car painted.
    3. I help him carry the luggage.

    Reply
    • 1. I have my assistance call the client.
      I have / I’ll have / I had my assistant call the client.
      2. I have my car painted.
      This is ok.
      3. I help him carry the luggage.
      This is ok.

      Reply
  15. “He is making me see my old photo”
    Is this correct?

    Reply
  16. “I had my house cleaned yesterday.”
    This is a causative sentence in past simple. It means that I arranged for someone to clean my house for me.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  17. What is the phonological anticipated problem that students might face ??

    Reply

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