CAUSATIVE VERB

Lesson II

CAUSATIVE VERBS IN ACTIVE & PASSIVE SENTENCES

As we pointed out in Lesson IOpens in new window, a causative verb indicates an action which is caused by the subject (a person or thing) to happen.

Causative verbs are structured into two forms:

  1. Active Causative Form (Done by Somebody/Something)
  2. Passive Causative Form (Done to Somebody/Something)

Remember we said in Lesson I the five most important causative verbs are: “Have,” “Get,” “Make,” “Let,” and “Help.” In this unit, we'll emphasize more on Causative Verb “Have”.

Again, in Lesson IOpens in new window we stressed that in a causative sentence, the Causative Verb “Have” indicates the subject’s arrangement for something to be done, or the agent’s duty or responsibility to carry out an action for the subject.

Now, we look out the structures we can use to form sentences with the Causative Verb “Have”.

Structures for Causative Verb “Have”

To form an active causative sentence with Causative Verb “Have”, the construction takes the following structures:

Active Causative Form.

Subject + C.V. “Have” + Agent (person/thing) + Verb’s Base Form + Object (person/thing)

Active in Nature

Example I:
  • I have him take my photograph. (Present Tense)
  • This means:
    I (the subject) arrange for my photograph to be taken by him.
    In other words: [I cause him to take my photograph.]
    The expression is active in nature.

Example II:
  • She has him take my photograph. (Present Tense)
  • This means:
    She arranges for my photograph to be taken by him.
    In other words: [She causes him to take my photograph.]
    Also this expression is active in nature.
Example III:
  • I had him take my photograph. (Past Tense)
  • This means:
    I arranged for my photograph to be taken by him.
    In other words: I caused him to take my photograph.
    This expression is active in nature.

Example IV:
  • I will have him take my photograph. (Future Tense)
  • This means:
    I will arrange for my photograph to be taken by him.
    In other words: I will cause him to take my photograph.
    Again, this expression is active in nature.
Passive Causative Form.

Subject + C.V “Have” + Object (person/thing) + Past Participle of Verb + [“By” + “Agent” (person/thing)]

Passive in Nature

Passive causatives can be likened to passive voiceOpens in new window because it is used to shift attention away from the doer of the action, and base attention to the action being done.

The passive causative structure is preferably used in the following cases:
  • When the person who does something is obvious
  • When it is not necessarily important to mention the person who does something
  • When we don’t know the person who does something
Example I:
  • I have my photograph taken. (Present Tense)
  • This means:
    I arrange for my photograph to be taken by someone.
Here the person who took the photograph is not mentioned because:

Therefore, the expression is in the passive causative form.

Note that there is an obvious difference between

In the first instance, ‘my photograph has been taken by me.’ In the second, ‘someone else takes my photograph’.


Example II:
  • She has my photograph taken. (Present Tense)
  • This means:
    She arranges for my photograph to be taken by someone.
Here the person who takes the photograph is not mentioned because:

Therefore, the expression is in the passive causative form.

Note that there is an obvious difference between

In the first instance, ‘my photograph has been taken by her.’ In the second, ‘someone else takes my photograph’.

Example III:
  • I had my photograph taken. (Past Tense)
  • This means:
    I arranged for my photograph to be taken by someone.
Here the person who had taken the photograph is not mentioned because:

Therefore, the expression is in the passive causative form.

Note that there is an obvious difference between

In the first instance, ‘my photograph had been taken by me.’ In the second, ‘someone else took my photograph’.


Example IV:
  • I will have my photograph taken. (Future Tense)
  • This means:
    I will arrange for my photograph to be taken by someone.
Here the person who will take the photograph is not mentioned because:

Therefore, the expression is in the passive causative form.

Note that there is an obvious difference between

In the first instance, ‘my photograph will have been taken by me.’ In the second, ‘someone else will have taken my photograph’.

The Continuous Form of “Have”

Note that a sentence with continuous form of causative verb “have” (having) may express pastOpens in new window, presentOpens in new window, or future tenseOpens in new window based on first verb in the sentence.

For example:
  • She is having her wedding planned for past seven months.

Non Causative Contexts

Causative “have” may also be used in the passive causative form to express accidents, bad effects, uncontrollable actions, and grievances that someone suffers. i.e. “To suffer the effects of what somebody/something does to you.”

Consider the following examples:
  • A student when passing by the country side had his backpack snatched by some hoodlums.
  • (In this case, the poor student didn’t cause her backpack to be snatched. Some thoughtless hoodlums snatched it from her.)

  • Leopards have their paws broken or crushed.
  • He had his money confiscated by custom officials in airport.
  • They had their eyes pierced.
  • He had his head ripped from his spine in a horrific car crash.
    See Lesson One.
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