The causative verb is a common structure in English. It shows that somebody or something is indirectly responsible for an action.
The most very common causative verbs are: Make, Get, Have, Let. They are explained in details as follows.
Causative Verbs in English – Video
1. Get (FORM: GET + PERSON + to + VERB)
This construction usually means “to convince someone to do something” or “to trick someone into doing something“.
- I will get my car maintained before this winter.
- How can teachers get their students to read more?
- Al-Aqsa TV commercials are trying to get people to stop smoking.
2. Have (FORM: HAVE + PERSON + VERB)
This construction means “to authorize someone to do something“.
- The doctor had his nurse take the patient’s temperature.
- Please have your secretary forward me the e-mail.
- I had the technician check the photocopy machine.
* Get vs. Have
Sometimes “get someone to do something” is interchangeable with “have someone do something“, but these expressions are not semantically the same thing.
For convenience consider the examples below:
- He got the mechanic to check his brakes. (At first the mechanic didn’t think it was necessary, but he convinced him to check the brakes.)
- I had the mechanic check my brakes. (I asked the mechanic to check the brakes.)
3. Make (FORM: MAKE + PERSON + VERB)
This construction means “to force someone to do something“.
Here are some examples:
- My dad made me apologize for what I had done.
- Did somebody make you wear that ugly pant?
- She made her kids tidy their beds.
4. Let (FORM: LET + PERSON + VERB)
This construction means “to allow someone to do something“.
Consider the following examples:
- Mary let me use her new laptop.
- Will your parents let you go to the festival?
- I don’t know if my boss will let me take the day off .
*The Passive Causative Structure With “Have” and “Get”
Have something done and Get something done are both used to refer to actions which are done for the subject rather than by the subject. Causative verbs are used instead of passive verbs to show that the subject causes the action to be done.
1. Have something done
- I don´t know how to repair cars, so I´m having mine repaired at the garage round the corner.
2. Get something done
- I really must get my eyes tested. I´m sure I need glasses. Get your hair cut!
NOTE: The differences between have and get something done are that have is slightly more formal than get, and that get is more frequent than have in the imperative form.