- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate Skill Builders
- Category: Upper-Intermediate Skill Builders: Grammar
- Written by Chris Cotter
What are passive causative verbs?
We use this structure to talk about having something done by another person/thing, especially a service of some type. Take a look at the following example:
Peter had his house repaired after the tornado last year.
The President had his speech written by a very talented group of writers.
In both cases, the person (Peter and the President) arranged for something (repairing a house and writing a speech) to be done by a third person.
What is the sentence structure?
Passive causatives use the following structure:
subject | causative verb | object | past participle
I | had | the car | tuned up.
He | had | his home entertainment system | installed a few days ago.
Our neighbors | will have | their lawn | mowed.
How are causatives used?
Passive causatives almost always use the verb have, but also got to a lesser extent. The sentence structure expresses a service you have done, usually by a third person. Car repairs, haircuts, or the installation of home entertainment systems are some examples. Here are a few more examples to understand the pattern better:
I got my car washed and waxed at the new service station.
He will have a deck built next summer.
Although I hate the dentist, I have had my teeth cleaned regularly.
It's also important to note that, like passive other passive sentences, this structure can show who did the action or service. For example:
I got my car washed and waxed by my neighbor's son. He works at the new service station.
He will have a deck built next summer by the contractors who remodeled his kitchen.
I have had my teeth cleaned regularly by a dentist downtown. He does a great job.
Is there additional information on passive causative sentences?
Yes, there are two more points. Need and want may be used in passive causative sentences. In some cases, the passive causative verb (had / got) may be dropped altogether.
I need to have the car tuned up.
I need the car tuned up.
I want to have my teeth checked. I think I might have a cavity.
I want my teeth checked. I think I might have a cavity.
In addition, modal auxiliary verbs may be used with the causative sentence structure. Most often, modals express a suggestion by the speaker, such as: You should have your hair cut. Unlike need and want, though, the causative verb must always accompany the modal verb. Look at the following structure and example:
subject | modal auxiliary verb | causative verb | object | past participle
He | should | have | his suits | cleaned.
Emma should have her hair done before the party.
Katie must have her necklace repaired. The clasp broke.
Alex might have his car repossessed! He hasn't made a payment in months.