In English grammar, a causative verb is a verb used to indicate that some person or thing makes — or helps to make — something happen. Examples of causative verbs include make, cause, allow, help, have, enable, keep, hold, let, force, and require, which can also be referred to as causal verbs or simply causatives.
Causative Verbs Explained
Causative verbs express the idea of someone causing something to take place. Causative verbs can be similar in meaning to passive verbs.
The car was washed. (passive)
I got the car washed. (causative)
These two sentences have a slight difference in meaning. In the first, it's possible that the speaker washed the car. In the second, it's clear that the speaker paid someone to wash the car.
Generally speaking, the passive voice is used to place emphasis on the action taken. Causatives place the stress on the fact that someone causes something to happen.
Causative Verb Examples
Jack had his house painted brown and gray.
The mother made her son do extra chores because of his behavior.
She had Tom write up a report for the end of the week.
The first sentence is similar in meaning to: Someone painted Jack's house OR Jack's house was painted by someone. The second sentence indicates that the mother caused the boy to take an action. In the third, someone told someone to do something.
Make as a Causative Verb
'Make' as a causative verb expresses the idea that the person requires another person to do something.
Subject + Make + Person + Base Form of Verb
Peter made her do her homework.
The teacher made the students stay after class.
The supervisor made the workers continue working in order to meet the deadline.
'Have' as a causative verb expresses the idea that the person wants something to be done for them. This causative verb is often used when speaking about various services. There are two forms of the causative verb 'have'.
Subject + Have + Person + Base Form of Verb
This form indicates that someone causes another person to take an action. Have someone do something is often used to management and work relationships.
They had John arrive early.
She had her children cook dinner for her.
I had Peter pick up the evening newspaper.
Subject + Have + Object + Past Participle
This form is used with services that are commonly paid for such as car washing, house painting, dog grooming, etc.
I had my hair cut last Saturday.
She had the car washed at the weekend.
Mary had the dog groomed at the local pet store.
Note: This form is similar in meaning to the passive.
Get as a Causative Verb
'Get' is used as a causative verb in a similar way as 'have' is used with the participle. This expresses the idea that the person wants something to be done for them. The causative verb is often used in a more idiomatic manner than 'have'.
Subject + Get + Person + Past Participle
They got their house painted last week.
Tom got his car washed yesterday.
Alison got the painting appraised by an art dealer.
This form is also used for difficult tasks we manage to complete. In this case, there is no causative meaning.
I got the report finished last night.
She finally got her taxes done yesterday.
I got the lawn done before dinner.
Have done = Get Done
Have done and get done have the same meaning when used to refer to paid services in the past.
I had my car washed. = I got my car washed.
She had her carpet cleaned. = She got her carpet cleaned.