English Grammar

Causative in English grammar with examples

Causative in English

The causative form in English (causative form) is a grammatical resource that can confuse us and that we may not know very well with this name. However, it is a grammatical structure that is used frequently in everyday conversation. In this lesson we reveal the causative structure in English using the verbs “have” and “get” so that you know every detail. Learn what the causative form is in English, how it is formed and the uses we can give it .

What is the causative in English?

The causative is a type of passive voice that is used to talk about a situation where another person does something for us or provides us a service. This detail related to who performs the action is the main difference between the traditional passive voice and the causative voice.

In such a way that it expresses a situation in which you are not the one who carries out the action, but you want or request that someone do it . For example, in English, we can say: “I cut my hair.” This phrase can mean that we did it ourselves or that we went to a beauty salon to have it done for us.

In English we do not use the same phrase for both meanings, then notice how each idea is expressed:

  • I cut my hair. (I cut my hair)> To indicate that we did it ourselves.
  • got my hair cut . (I cut my hair)> Make it clear that someone else was in charge of cutting our hair because we expressly asked them to.

Causative form: “get” and “have”

If we want to construct sentences using the causative in English, we can use the verbs “Get” or “Have” interchangeably.

This means that it would be the same if we said:

  • got my hair cut .
  • had my hair cut .

As you can see, the verb “get” or “have” is used followed by that “something” (something) that we send to do. We finish the sentence with the action, which we express using the verb in Participle.

The structural basis of this grammatical form is the following:

Get / Have + object + verb participle.

Both verbs (get and have) have the same meaning, but “get” is used more frequently in informal speaking and imperative phrases .


  • Get your hair cut.

If we want to clarify who performs the action, we only need to add the particle “by” and we would be completing the sentence.


  • I got my hair cut by the hairstylist.

Causative in English and verb tenses

The causative form can be expressed in the different verb tenses , so that we talk about something that was done to us in the present, past or future.

Causal form in present

  • He has the car washed .  – Present Simple
  • He is having the car washed .  – Present Continuous
  • He has had the car washed .  – Present Perfect
  • He has been having the car washed .  – Present Perfect Continuous

Causative form in past tense

  • He had the car washed .  – Past Simple
  • He was having the car washed .  – Past Continuous
  • He had had the car washed .  – Past Perfect
  • He had been having the car washed .  – Past Perfect Continuous

Causative form in future

  • He will have the car washed .  – Simple Future
  • He will be having the car washed .  – Future Continuous

Causative form in other verb tenses

  • He should have the car washed .
  • It’s worth having the car washed .

Negative sentences

We can also form negative sentences using the causative form with “have” or “get”, as follows:

  • She didn’t have her house cleaned , she did it herself.
  • They won’t get their money reimbursed .
  • I am not having the book published .

Interrogative sentences

  • Do you have your hair cut every three months?
  • Can she get her nails done while she is pregnant?
  • Will you have your dog sterilized ?

Talking about unpleasant situations

The structure “have + object + participle verb” is also used when we want to talk about an unpleasant experience .


  • Last night I have my Smartphone stolen .

Final thoughts on causative in English

There are two aspects that you must take into account in relation to the causative form and the verbs “have” and “get”.

# 1 The order of the words

Remember that word order is important to express this structure correctly. It is not the same to say:

  • Adam had his car repaired.

To say:

  • Adam had repaired his car.

In the first sentence it is clear that someone else repaired Adam’s car, while the second sentence indicates that it was he who did it.

# 2 The verbs get and have are not always used to express the causative form

The verbs “get” and “have” are used in other grammatical structures and not exclusively for the causative form.


  • She got dressed as quickly as she could.
  • They get home late tonight.
  • I will get married in April.
  • They have to come back
  • have to go to school.

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