ENGLISHMain English Grammar



In English, the causative form is used when we don’t do something ourselves, instead we arrange for someone else to do it for us. In other words Causative Verbs are verbs where one person is ‘causing’ another to do something. English has three true causative verbs: HAVE, LET, and MAKE. All these verbs take the base form of verbs (bare infinitives) after their objects.

It’s also important to point out the other verbs with a similar meaning that are not, in fact, causative verbs. Such verbs are GET, FORCE, ALLOW, and CAUSE. They take full infinitive (TO+V1), not bare infinitive (base verb).

There are two kinds of causative structure:

a) Active Causative
b) Passive Causative

1. Active Causative

Verbs that take active forms of causative are Let, Make, and Have

Pattern: Subject (person) + Have/Let/Make + Object (person) + Bare Infinitive (Base Verb)

Difference in their uses:


LET is used when we want to allow someone to do something; e.g.

a) She lets me borrow her book.
b) Their employer lets them leave early on Fridays in the summer.


MAKE is used when we want to force someone to do something; e.g.

a) She made me write a letter of apology even though I had done nothing wrong.
b) My mother makes me do my home work.


HAVE is used when a person wants to use his authority to obtain the result, e.g.

a) My English teacher has me do the homework in a week.
b) The production manager had the technicians modify the electrical outlets.

The verbs HAVE, LET, and MAKE follow this irregular pattern when they have the meaning of causing someone to do something; e.g.

a) I had my friends tell me what happened. (not told)
b) She will let her friend borrow her new jacket. (not borrows or will borrow)
c) Mark’s teacher makes him do homework every day. (not does)
d) Sudha made her husband sell their house.
e) Sudha will have her husband sell their house.
f) Sudha let her husband sell their house.

NOTE-I: The subject and object of causative sentences are usually people, but things are also possible; e.g.

a) The heavy rain made the paint peel off the building.
b) The phone message made him feel nervous.
c) We let the dogs run wild at the beach.

NOTE-II: Also, the imperative verb form (no subject) is common with causative verbs, since both causatives and imperatives are used for giving orders.

a) Have Ritu call
b) Let the dogs go outside after dinner.
c) Make her secretary type out the report.

NOTE-III: Non-Causative Verbs: Get, Force, Allow, and Cause

Pattern: Subject + Get/Force/Allow/Cause + Object (person) + Full Infinitive (TO+V1)

There are other verbs that have the meaning of cause, but because they aren’t true causative verbs, they take an full infinitive verb form instead of a base verb. Such common verbs are FORCE, CAUSE, GET, and ALLOW; e.g.

a) He got his friend to help him move.
b) My mother forces me to practice the piano every day.
c) Our teacher is going to allow us to go home early today.
d) The test is causing them to panic. It’s really difficult.
a) Sudha wants her husband to sell their house.
b) Sudha will allow her husband to sell their house.
c) Sudha persuaded her husband to sell their house.

2. The Passive Causative

What Is the Passive Causative?

There are two verbs generally used in the passive causative form; they are HAVE and GET. In addition, there is usually no agent in this form; it’s not like in active form which has the agent. The action verb is in the past participle, and the object comes before it.

Pattern: Subject (person) + Have/Get + Object (thing) + Past Participle

Can causative sentences be passive? Yes! The passive causative is quite common for services; e.g.

a) He had his car. (by a mechanic)
b) She got her hair cut yesterday.
c) My sister got her nails done.
d) Sudha had their house sold by her husband.
e) Sudha got their house sold by her husband.

See these example sentences to understand the difference between ACTIVE CAUSITIVE and PASSIVE CAUSITIVE

1. Active Causative: The manager had the assistant write the report.
Passive Causative: The report was/got written (by the assistant).

2. Active Causative: I had someone clean my house.
Active Causative: I had/got my house cleaned.

NOTE-I: But, if the verb GET followed by personal nouns, past participle can’t be used in it. Instead, we must use TO-INFINITIVE. So it will become just like in active causative form; e.g.


a) I get the house painted.
b) I get John to paint the house.

NOTE-II: In addition, modal auxiliary verbs may be used with the causative sentence structure. Most often, modals express a suggestion by the speaker, e.g.

a) You should have your hair cut.
b) He should get his decision changed.
c) She will have the food cooked.

NOTE-III: Need & Want

Need and want may be used in passive causative sentences. In some cases, the passive causative verb (HAD/GOT) may be dropped altogether; e.g.

a) I need/want to have my hair cut. (Active structure)
b) I need/want my hair cut. (Passive structure)


For more chapters/topics on English Grammar read the following book authored by me.

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For English Practice Sets on various topics read the following book authored by me.

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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