Published on 03 Mar 2014 | over 4 years ago Need to get your hair cut? You can have your friend do it for you. These sentences both use a sentence structure known as the CAUSATIVE. In this grammar lesson we will look at this structure in both the active and passive forms. Take a quiz on this lesson here:


Hi again. Welcome to . I'm Adam. Today's lesson is the causative. Now, I get asked many times how to construct and use the causative structure.

First of all, "What is the causative", you're wondering? If you have someone do something for you, then you are using the causative voice. For example, if you have the waiter bring you a glass of water, this is a causative. If you have your hair cut, that is a causative. The difference -- active and passive -- we will look at that in a moment.

First thing we need to do is understand how to construct this sentence structure. So we're going to have -- I broke it down into little pieces, everything that you can understand. The difference between a causative sentence and a regular sentence is we use an agent in the causative. We have a subject; we have the causative verb; we have the agent -- the person or thing that is going to do something for you; we have the verb; and we have the object.

So first, the causative verb. There aren't that many that you will use. These are the four most common ones: have, make, let, get. There are others, but the others are so obvious that we don't need to worry about them too much, like "ask". "He asked someone to bring him something." It's very clear. I think most people know how to use it. It's these four that give people problems, especially these three. Why? Because I'm going to use a base verb with them. With "get", I'm going to use an infinitive verb, "to" verb. Okay? So again, subject -- "I" for example -- "had" -- you can go past. Whatever tense you're looking for -- future, past, present -- this is going to take the tense, not this. Your causative verb is going to take the tense. " 'I had' someone, 'I have', or 'I am having' someone, 'I will have' someone cut my hair." For example. I need a haircut, actually, now that I think about it. So, "I had the barber -- in this case, cutting hair -- cut -- base -- my hair -- object." Okay? The main thing to remember is that the agent can be a person or a thing, okay? "I had" -- well, we'll talk about that in the passive. "I had the package delivered. "That's object, still. "I had the car drive to somewhere else." It's a little bit strange if you have an automatic car. I'll think of a different example for you after that, okay? But agent, person, thing. Object could be direct object, the person. It could be indirect object, so it's a thing or a person, what or who. So, "I had the barber cut my hair."

Now, what do these mean, these four verbs? Excuse me. These three -- have, make, and get -- basically mean cause. You're causing someone to do something. But you're wondering, "Okay. All of them mean cause. When do I use which one?" Right? It's a little bit of a nuance, very subtle differences. When you "have someone do something", basically, you're commissioning them; you're paying them. "I will have the painter paint my house." "I will have the mechanic fix my car." These are services. You're paying someone to do something.

"I will make someone do something." You're a little bit forcing them, right? "I will make my little brother clean my room. Why? Because he's my little brother. I'm bigger than him. I can make him do things. So I will."

Get. "Get" is more like "convince". You persuade someone to do something for you, right? "I will get my sister to do my laundry. Why? Because she's nice, and she likes me, and I know how to speak to her. That's why".

"Let" is, basically, "give someone permission". So very clear. Have, make, get -- causing it in its own way; let -- allow. Okay.

Then, this -- all of this is the active causative. "We make someone do something". But we can also use the passive causative, in which case we have the subject; we have the causative verb again; we have the object, next; and we have the verb in a past participle form. Notice that we don't -- I didn't include the agent. You can include the agent. Usually, it's obvious; you don't need to, right? So if I had my hair cut, who did it? The barber. Do I need to say it was the barber? No. You understand that, right? So the agent is optional. I'll put it in brackets, in parentheses.
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