Who is in charge? – Causative Verbs in English

Categories English By JadePosted on Format Film
Who is in charge? – Causative Verbs in English

What are causative verbs? In this grammar lesson, I will tell you all you need to know about using causative verbs. We use these verbs when there is a power relationship involved in what is happening. For example, when you tell someone to do something, you can use this structure: „I told Tom to wash the dishes.” But did you know it means something different if you say „I had Tom wash the dishes.” or „I made Tom wash the dishes.”? Find out what the causative verbs in English are, and how you can use them in your speech and writing. Using causative verbs correctly shows a real command of the language! https://www.engvid.com/how-to-show-authority-causative-verbs/


Hi, everyone. I’m Jade. What we’re talking about today is causative verbs. And this is a different structure we use in sentences when it’s important to show authority and important to show someone who’s deciding an action. So how I’m going to introduce these verbs to you is to show you some example sentences first. Some are in the causative structure; some are not in the causative structure. So let’s have a look.

Sentence No. 1, „John cleans the windows for me.” That’s the structure you already know. What’s important in this sentence is the subject, John. He’s the man cleaning the windows. Okay. You know that. It’s easy.

Sentence 2, „I have John clean the windows for me.” This is the introduction to the causative structure. We’ve got causative have. What’s different about this sentence? „John” is now in the object position, and „I” is in the subject position. So what’s different about this is — we still know that John is cleaning the windows, but what’s different is you are becoming important because you have the authority to make that happen. So it gives us a little bit more information about what’s important here.

Let’s have a look at No. 3. „I have the windows cleaned.” What’s missing in this sentence is we don’t know who’s doing the cleaning anymore. It’s not important because we don’t have John’s name here. So something is missing in this one. No. 4, „I get John to clean the windows.” This structure is causative get, and we can use it in the same way as causative have — the same way as this. And again, it’s like an order or a task John is given to do, and you have the authority to make that happen.

No. 5, „I make John clean the windows.” Then you really — you’re not being very nice to him. You’re forcing him. And poor John has no choice. You’ve got to be his boss, maybe his wife. I don’t know, but you’re not being very nice to him.

And let’s have a look at No. 6. This is causative let. And we use this for permission. „I let John clean the windows for me.” What does that mean? He’s begging you. He’s saying, „Please. Can I come and clean your windows?” So you can see they have different meanings here. But what we’re going to do in the next part of the lesson is look at the structure you need to use to build that kind of sentence.

But before we get there, when can you use causative structures? Well, you need to have some kind of authority relationship. So you need, like, a boss and an employee or a teacher and a pupil, okay? Or you need a parent and a child. Otherwise, the causative structure’s just not going to work. You can’t say to your colleague, „I make my colleague bring me tea.” You probably can’t say that unless you bully your colleague. It’s not going to work.

So let’s start by looking at the structure now. Causative have and get are the same structure for this meaning. So you choose „have” or „get” and then your object and then a past participle. And what’s useful to remember about this? Wherever you have a job done in your house — you have something fixed or your car fixed or something redesigned or something changed in your house — you use this causative structure. So here are some examples. „She had the kitchen redecorated.” „I’m getting the car fixed.” So you can use it in the different tenses as well.

Let’s have a look at the other causative structures that you need to know. So we’ve got causative get. And this is a different meaning, this one. We use this one when you want to persuade someone or — no, when you have persuaded someone to do something. So for example, „I got Tom to lend me some money.” He didn’t want to lend you some money, but you spoke to him nicely; you did some sweet talk, and you got him to lend you some money. So that means persuaded him to do something for you.