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Causative verbs: let, make, have, get, help are called ‘causative’ verbs because they cause something to happen. These constructions have always been one of the most mysterious and challenging parts of English grammar. These verbs are used in causative sentence constructions. In this article, we will look at the causative verbs: let, make, have, get, help.

Causative verb HAVE

Meaning: to arrange for someone else to do something for you. The causative verb have has two possible constructions.

Construction 1: Have + person + infinitive

For example:

  • We had a painter paint our apartment.
  • She liked to have the window open because it was too hot in the room.
  • I had my elder sister check for mistakes in my essay.
  • They had the man fix the door on the shed when it broke.

Construction 2: Have + thing + past participle

  • Sheila had her hair done yesterday.
  • Paul is having his car fixed tomorrow morning.
  • I had my birthday cake made in that bakery. It’s delicious.
  • We are having the air conditioning fixed.   

We can also use this causative structure to say that something happened to someone which, as a rule, is not a pleasant experience.

  • The Smiths had their apartment robbed while they were in the theatre last night.
  • Sally had her arm broken in a car accident so she’ll have to skip her PE classes for some time.

Causative verb GET

We often use get instead of have in informal situations. 

  • I’m going to get my hair cut this afternoon when I finish work.
  • We got a painter to paint our apartment.

Meaning: convince/persuade someone to do something.

Construction: Get + person + to + infinitive

  • There was a lot of work to do, so Jane got her son to help her with the dishes.
  • When they were in Paris, Helen got her boyfriend to buy her an expensive ring.
  • I got my neighbour to help me carry my suitcase.
  • I can’t get my washing machine to start, so I guess I’ll have to call the mechanic.

Causative verb MAKE

Meaning: force or require someone to do something.

Construction: Make + person + infinitive

For example:

  • The thing she said made me think.
  • In this school, they make students exercise regularly.
  • Although John wasn’t hungry, his mum made him eat his dinner.
  • His parents tried to make him be a better person.

We can use the verbs force and require in this context, as well.

  • As soon as they got to the barracks, the prisoners were forced to take their clothes and shoes off and take a shower.
  • We were requested to submit our works by the end of the month.

Causative verb LET

Meaning: to allow someone to do something. 

Construction: Let + person/thing + infinitive

For example:

  • My brother let me use his computer when mine broke down.
  • Sarah never lets anyone tell her what to do; she’s so stubborn.
  • They should let the children play in the park, it’s such a lovely day today.
  • Let bygones be bygones.

Instead of let, we can use the verbs allow and permit;. While let is followed by a bare infinitive (infinitive without ‘to’), allow and permit are followed by a full infinitive (infinitive with ‘to’).

  • They allow passengers to carry 25 kg of luggage when flying by their planes.
  • The cafe owners permit pets to stay inside the cafe, which is said to be pet-friendly.

Causative verb HELP

Meaning: give aid to someone in doing something.

Construction: Help + person + (to) infinitive

Note: (after “help” you can use either the infinitive with to (to do) or bare infinitive (do).

For example:

  • Helen helped me (to) prepare food for my birthday party.
  • A cup of coffee in the morning always helps me (to) wake up.
  • My colleague helped me (to) write my CV when I applied for a new job.
  • My elder brother always helps me (to) do my homework. 
 Causative verbs: Have, Get, Make, Let, Help
Causative verbs: Let, Make, Have, Get, Help
Do the exercise to perfect your knowledge:
  1.  I never ________ my children _____video games after school. (let/play)
  2. The police _____ him ______ for the damage he caused. (make/pay)
  3. Rob ______ his house _______when he won the lottery. (have/paint)
  4. When my car broke down, my wife ______ me ______ hers. (let/drive)
  5. Julia _____ her boyfriend _______her a ring. (get/buy)
  6. When I was little, my parents have always tried to ______ me ______ about the consequences of my doings. (make/think)
  7. Michael __________ his car ________ while he was doing shopping. (have/steal)
  8. Sam _____ me ______the grocery. (help/carry) 
  9. When we were little our parents used to ______us ________late on Saturdays. (let/stay up)
  10. Please, try not to _____her _____. (make/cry)
  11. Jane ______ her daughter _______ her tidy the apartment. (get/help)
  12. This exercise can ______you ______ causative verbs better. (help/understand)
  13. Laura never _____people ____ her what to do because she is stubborn. (let/tell) 
  14. My friend ____ me ______ her with her CV when she applied for a job. (get/help)
  15. His story ______ everyone in the classroom _______ about climate change. (make/think)
  16. Reading ______you ______easier. (help/fall asleep)
  17. I ______a plumber _____ my plumbings this morning. (have/fix)
  18. When they arrive at the camp, they ________ the children  _________ their dirty clothes and take a bath. (make/take off)
  19. I’ll _______ my secretary _________ you as soon as I can. (have/contact)
  20. I love my neighbour Helen because she always _______ me _________ my pets. (help/look after)

Download the lesson about causative verbs have, get, make, let and have and check your answers to the exercise

or do the QUIZ

Causative verbs: Have, Get, Make, Let, Help
Causative verbs: Let, Make, Have, Get, Help

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