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Get and Have Passives Used in Causative Verb Constructions

Get and Have Passives Used in Causative Verb Constructions

The term causative refers to verbs whose meaning is to "cause something to happen" or "cause somebody to do something." The classic causative verb is make. For example:

John made the kids turn down the TV.

In other words, John caused the kids to turn down the TV.

Here are examples of get and have used as causatives: get: I got my secretary to take notes during the meeting.

We got them to revise their plans.

He got the judge to reduce the charges.

As you can see, when get is used as a causative, get is followed by a nounphrase object and an infinitive verb phrase. The noun-phrase object of get also serves as the subject of the following infinitive verb. For example:

James got his boss to kill the proposal.

The noun phrase his boss is both the object of get and the subject of the infinitive verb to kill. In other words, the boss is the person killing the proposal, not James.

have: I had my secretary take notes during the meeting.

We had them revise their plans.

He had the judge reduce the charges.

When have is used as a causative, have is followed by a noun-phrase object and a base-stem infinitive verb phrase. The noun-phrase object of have also serves as the subject of the following bare-stem verb. For example:

James had his boss kill the proposal.

Here the noun phrase his boss is both the object of had and the subject of the bare-stem verb kill. In other words, the boss is the person killing the proposal, not James.

When get and have are used as causative verbs, they differ in the exact form of the verb in their complements (infinitives with get; bare-stems with have), but in other aspects they seem interchangeable—with the predictable exception that get passives are more informal than have passives.

They are also alike in that the verbs in their complements can be passives. Here are the active get and have sentences, together with their passive counterparts:

get

Active: James got his boss to kill the proposal. Passive: James got the proposal killed by his boss.

have

Active: James had his boss kill the proposal. Passive: James had the proposal killed by his boss.

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