building blocksCausatives


The causative is a common structure in English. It is used when one thing or person causes another thing or person to do something. This page will explain how causatives are formed, and how to use them.

Basic causative structures

There are two basic causative structures. One is like an active, and the other is like a passive. These examples use the causative verb "have":

Active Passive
I had John fix the car. I had the car fixed.
(I arranged for the car to be fixed by John — I caused him to fix it.) (I arranged for the car to be fixed by someone. We don't know who, so this is like a passive.)

The active causative structure

This is the basic structure of the active form, along with some more examples:

Subject Causative verb Agent Action verb Object
Susan had her brother do her homework.
The police had the suspect stop his car.
We had the carpenter fix our window.

The passive causative structure

In the passive form, there is usually no agent. The action verb is in the past participle, and the object comes before it:

Subject Causative verb Object Action verb
We had our door fixed.
Yukiko had her hair cut.
Sanjay had the windows cleaned.

Other causative verbs

All the examples above use the causative verb “have”. However, many other verbs can be used in causatives. In the active form, som of these verbs require the action verb to have “to” before it. These are some examples of the most common causative verbs.

Verb Meaning Form of Action Verb Examples
make force, compel plain form The robbers made us lie on the floor.
[No passive form]
get same as "have" "to" form I got Jae Won to pick me up in the car.
She got her hair cut.
let allow plain form I'll let you borrow my bike.
[No passive form]