One-Point English Lesson: Causative + Infinitive

The boss ordered him to do the work

I mentioned yesterday that we use the causative form of make, have, and let with a base verb. When we use the causative form of other verbs, such as cause, command, get, order, etc, and the object of those verbs is performing the action, we use the infinitive form (VerbING) of the main verb. Let’s look at some examples of these today.

In its causative form, get has the meaning of “persuade.” When you get someone to do something for your, you have persuaded them to do it.

  • The boss got Jack to attend the company golf outing on Sunday.
  • I got him to agree to a five-year contract, instead of his original proposal for a ten-year contract.
  • See if you can get Jane to bake her famous apple pie for the party tomorrow.

Other verbs such as cause, command, get, order, want, etc, do not have any different meaning or nuance when used in the causative form.

  • The hurricane caused the power to go out for almost one million people in New York.
  • The pet owner commanded her dog to attack the burglar.
  • Jack ordered his son to clean up the back yard.
  • I want him to pack the glasses and dishes carefully.

When the object of the verb in a causative sentence is the receiver of the action, we use the past participle form of the verb. Compare these sentences:

  • The boss made Jack work on the report all day. “Jack” is the object of the verb and performs the action “work.”
  • The boss ordered the report completed by the end of the day. “The report” is the object of the verb and receives the action “completed.”

Here are a few more examples:

  • I want him to pack the glasses and dishes carefully.
  • I want the glasses and dishes packed carefully.
  • The bookkeeper got all of the files finished before noon.
  • We are going to have our house painted next month.

We often use this type of grammar with get and have when ask or pay someone to do a job or perform a service for us. I have a previous lesson that deals with using the causative form of get and have :

  • I have my hair cut at the barbershop on Madison Ave.
  • Joe usually has his suits cleaned at the ABC shop.
  • I need to get my car serviced soon.

Did anyone make you do something today? Leave me a comment here and let me know.



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One-Point English Lesson: Causative + Base Verb

She made him clean up the garden

When we use the causative form of make, have, and let, and the object of those verbs is performing the action, we use the base form of the main verb. In its causative form, make has the meaning of “force” or “push”

  • The boss made Jack work on the report all day. “Jack” is the object of the verb and performs the action “work.”
  • I make my students write a journal every day. “My students” is the object of the verb and performs the action “write.”
  • Jenny made her son eat all of his vegetables. “Her son” is the object of the verb and performs the action “eat.”

Have, in its causative form, has the meaning of “ask” or “request.”

  • I had ABC Company paint my house. “ABC Company” is the object of the verb and performs the action “paint.”
  • Frank had Jack repair his computer. “Jack” is the object of the verb and performs the action “repair.”
  • Jane had her students decorate the classroom for the holidays. “Her students” is the object of the verb and performs the action “decorate.”

In its causative form, let has the meaning of “permit.”

  • Bob usually lets his children watch TV after they finish their homework. “His children” is the object of the verb and performs the action “watch.”
  • Tony let Jane buy a new car after getting a bonus. “Jane” is the object of the verb and performs the action “buy.”
  • The airline let me switch my flight without a penalty. “Me” is the object of the verb and performs the action “switch.”

Have you made, had, or let anyone do something recently? Leave a message here and let me know.



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English Lesson: Causitives – Get Something Done


I have an old Guild guitar from the 1960’s. It’s a classic! It has been in need of some repair, and last weekend I finally got it repaired. I’ve had this guitar for about 25 years. When I first got it, I was very into jazz. In fact, I used to listen to nothing but jazz. I would listen to such artists as Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass all the time and try to play along with the records. Yeah, there were records back then! I’m glad I got it fixed. I just wish I had more time to play…

Yesterday we looked at causatives using have. For example, I had my hair cut. Today, let’s look at a variation of this using get. Do you know how to use this grammar? Take a look at the paragraph above and then check today’s lesson. First, let’s review causatives:

Compare these two sentences:

  1. I repaired my guitar. ← This means, I repaired my own guitar. I did the action of repairing.
  2. I had my guitar repaired. ← This means, someone else did the action of repairing.

As we learned yesterday, when we ask someone or pay them to do a job for us, we use the causative form.

The structure is: [someone] + has + [something] + pp Verb (past participle verb).

                                    I           had      my guitar         repaired.

We can also use get, instead of have, in the same kind of sentence. So, “I got my guitar repaired” has the same meaning and use as “I had my guitar repaired”. Here are a few more examples:

  • I lost my house key, so I need to get another key made.
  • Mom decided to get the house painted to make it look fresh.
  • Lori said she got her computer fixed yesterday and it is working great.
  • Where do you usually get your hair cut?

Well, I think I need to finish this lesson and get back to making some music. Thanks for studying today!