Explanations » B1+ Grammar Explanations » Have something done – causative have
Exercises
Explanation
Course

Have something done

A grammar chart explaining the structure "have something done," (causative 'have') including examples and different uses such as "I'm having my hair cut" and "We've had our kitchen redecorated.

Download full-size image from Pinterest

Someone does something for us

We use have + object + past participle when we want to talk about something someone else does for us, usually because we pay them or persuade or ask them to do it. Compare:

  • We clean the house every Friday. (=we clean it ourselves)
  • We have the house cleaned every Friday. (=someone else cleans it for us)

The verb have is not an auxiliary verb in this construction. We need to use did or do for negative sentences and questions when there is no auxiliary verb.

  • We usually haven’t the house painted; we do it ourselves. blank
  • We don’t usually have the house painted; we do it ourselves. blank
  • Had you your house painted? It looks great. blank
  • Did you have your house painted? It looks great. blank

We can use have something done in any verb tense.

  • I‘m going to have my hair cut tomorrow.
  • She‘s having her house redecorated.
  • I‘ve had the oil in my car changed.
  • She had her hair cut yesterday. 

Negative experiences

We can also use have something done with a passive meaning when something bad happens to us.

  • He had his wallet stolen in Piccadilly. (=his wallet was stolen)
  • They had their house destroyed by the fire. 

Get something done

In informal English, we can use get + object + past participle with the same meaning as have something done.

  • I need to get my eyes tested.
  • They got their home rebuilt after the earthquake.  
  • She got her legs burned in the fire. (negative experience)

 

Have someone do something

We can use the construction have + person + infinitive with the same meaning as have something done, but in this case, we mention the person who is doing something for us.

  • We are having the architect redesign the ground floor. 
  • Susanne had her brother prune all the trees. 

Get someone to do something

We can also use the construction get + someone + to+ infinitive to talk about someone doing something for us because we are paying them or because we asked or convinced them to do it. However, get someone to do something often implies the idea that you have convinced someone to do something.

  • I got a mechanic to take a look at the car.
  • Tom’s boss got him to go to a conference in Germany.