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Causative Verbs


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Certain verbs can be used to express a causal relationship between the subject and object in a sentence. Some of them require a "to" while others do not. Note the following patterns:

    With "to"

    S + V + O + to V (O)

    I allowed Jim to clean up the mess.

    I asked Jim to clean up the mess.

    I told Jim to clean up the mess.

    I persuaded Jim to clean up the mess.*

    Without "to"

    S + V + O + V (O)

    I let Jim clean up the mess.

    I had Jim clean up the mess.

    I made Jim clean up the mess.

*Other verbs which use this pattern are require, command, force, order, remind, and urge. The verb help can be used with or without "to": Help Jim (to) clean up the mess.

Some verbs use the pattern, S + V that S + V (the second verb is in the base form)

    I insisted that Laura do her homework.

    I suggested that Laura do her homework.

    I recommended that Laura do her homework.

    (not "does")

    *Other verbs which can be used with this pattern are ask, require, request, and demand.

The most common error with causatives is using "to" unnecessarily. For example,

    We made Kevin to finish his supper.

    We made Kevin finish his supper.

    They suggested Irene to take music lessons.

    They suggested that Irene take music lessons.

    (Incorrect)

    (Correct)

    (Incorrect)

    (Correct)

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