Causatives Have/Get Something Done

Causative verbs cause something else to happen.

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:  I cleaned my house. (This means I cleaned it myself).

If I paid someone to clean it, of course I can say: A cleaner cleaned my house. But, another way is to use a causative construction. So I can also say: I had my house cleaned.

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.

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‘.

  • I had my car washed.
  • John will have his house painted.

We can also use ‘subject + get + object + past participle‘. This has the same meaning as ‘have’, but is less formal.

  • The students get their essays checked.
  • I’ll get my hair cut next week.
  • He got his washing machine fixed.

Have practice using causatives have/get something done

Exercise 1. Change these sentences into the structure ‘have + object + past participle’ or ‘get + object + past participle’.

Example: I cleaned my kitchen (have) → I had my kitchen cleaned.

  1. I washed my car. (have)
  2. I cut my hair. (get)
  3. I typed the documents. (have)
  4. I fixed my washing machine. (get)
  5. I cut my grass. (have)
  6. I painted my bedroom. (get)
  7. I repaired my fridge. (have)
  8. I tidied my garden. (get)
  9. I edited the article. (have)
  10. I cleaned the carpets. (get)
  11. I printed the photo. (have)
  12. I checked my teeth. (get)
  13. I cleaned the windows. (have)
  14. I made the necklace. (get)
  15. I delivered the furniture. (have)
  16. I repaired the roof. (get)
  17. I wrote the report. (have)
  18. I dyed my hair. (get)
  19. I sent the money. (have)
  20. I built the shed. (get)

I’m getting my hair cut.

Exercise 2. Rewrite these sentences using causatives have/get something done

  1. The hairdresser is cutting my hair on Tuesday. – I am having my hair cut on Tuesday.
  2. Did a professional make the cake for you?
  3. Somebody stole my car last weekend.
  4. An electrician fitted the new lights for Sandra.
  5. The woman had asked the waiter to bring the bill to the table.
  6. They employed a plumber to fit the shower.
  7. Have you asked the secretary to fax the contract to Mr Brown?
  8. Alan’s mum washes all his clothes.
  9. The mechanic at the garage serviced their car.
  10. He told the student to clean the blackboard.

Exercise 3. Rewrite these sentences using causatives have/get something done

  1. My windows are cleaned twice a month. – I have my windows cleaned twice a month.
  2. The star’s latest film has just been released.
  3. Their swimming pool will be drained.
  4. The carpets must be laid in our flat by Monday.
  5. The brakes on my bike have been oiled.
  6. Our desks are being painted at the moment.
  7. Her bookcase was delivered last week.
  8. A new computer has been ordered for me.
  9. Annie’s sculptures are going to be exhibited tomorrow.
  10. A skateboard was being made for Tim.

Exercise 4. Rewrite these sentences using causatives have/get something done

  1. Holly is going to ask Mary to sew her dress. – Holly is going to have her dress sewn.
  2. Someone has tidied the garden for Mark.
  3. When will they fix his telephone?
  4. Pat pays someone to clean the windows every week.
  5. Can you tell someone to move those boxes?
  6. When will they deliver Dan’s sofa?
  7. Howard should ask someone to deliver the package.
  8. When will you service the car?
  9. Pay someone to make the curtains for you.
  10. Someone has shortened Alice’s skirt.

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