Causatives: Have and Get

Download this explanation in PDF here.
See my explanation about the causative verbs 'let' and 'make' here.

We use a causative verb when we want to talk about something that someone else did for us or for another person. It means that the subject caused the action to happen, but didn't do it themselves. Maybe they paid, or asked, or persuaded the other person to do it. For example, we can say: If I paid someone to clean it, of course I can say: But, another way is to use a causative construction. So I can also say: In a sense, using a causative verb is similar to using a passive. The important thing is that the house is now clean. We don't focus on who did the cleaning.

Have + object + past participle (have something done)

We usually use 'have something done' when we are talking about paying someone to do something for us. It's often used for services. The form is 'subject + have + object + past participle'. Get + object + past participle (get something done)

We can also use 'subject + get + object + past participle'. This has the same meaning as 'have', but is less formal. Try an exercise about 'have something done' and 'get something done' here.

Have someone do something (have + person + infinitive)

We can also use the construction 'subject + have + person + infinitive'. This has a very similar meaning to 'have something done', which we've already talked about, but this time we say who did the thing - we talk about the person who we asked to do the thing for us. Get someone to do something (get + person + to + infinitive)

Finally, we can also use the construction 'get + someone + to + infinitive'. Again, this means that you cause the other person to do the action, maybe by paying them to do it, or by asking them to do it, or by persuading them to do it. Sometimes, this construction has the feeling that we needed to convince someone to do something, while the other constructions on this page are neutral.

Try an exercise about 'have someone do something' and 'get someone to do something' here.