'Causatives' indicate that someone did not do the action on their own, but they somehow intervened in the cause of the events.

"Causatives" in the English Grammar

What Are Causatives?

A causative (or control verb) indicates that a subject either causes someone or something else to do or be something or causes a change in the state of an event. It places the causer into a transitive clause, and the original subject becomes the object.

Why Do We Use Causatives?

We use 'causatives' when we know that the subject did not do the action on their own. Actually, the subjects in causative sentences lead someone else to do the action.
Here are the examples which can help to understand the concept:

He made me mow the lawn.

I got my hair cut by my sister.

Peter let Sara do the project.

How Do You Define Causatives?

Causative sentences are made of two clauses. The first clause consists of the 'causative verbs' and it is called the main clause, while the second clause consists of a 'participle,' 'to-infinitive,' or a 'bare infinitive' and it is called a non-finite clause. Both these clauses are subordinate clauses that are not complete without each other. Causatives are made of four main factors:

  1. subject
  2. causative verbs
  3. indirect object
  4. non-finite clause

Subjects of Causative Verbs

You can use any kind of subject whether noun, noun phrase, pronoun, proper noun, etc. as the subject of a causative sentence. Here are a few examples:

Carla made him cry.

They made me kill him.

His teacher got them find a solution.

Causative Verbs

'Causative verbs' are the main verbs that indicate the relation between the subject and the agent. 'Causative verbs' show the subject did not do the action but had a leading role in the occurrence of the event.

He forced me to study math at school.

People were asked to keep the party quiet.

There are many causative verbs in English, but they are all categorized into three main groups.

  1. causatives with 'to-infinitive'
  2. causatives with 'bare infinitive'
  3. semi-causative

Causatives with To-infinitive

Most causative verbs such as convince, enable, cause, allow, force, lead, etc. are followed by a 'to-infinitive' but the most common and important causative verb in this group is the causative verb 'get.' Check out the examples:

Picky forced the man to kill his father.

Nina convinced her mom to cook turkey for the thanksgiving.

I got the painter to paint the house.

She always gets a driver to go to important ceremonies.

Causatives with Bare Infinitive

Have, let, make are consecutive verbs, (also called catenative verbs or linked verbs) that cannot be followed by to-infinitives. So, as causative verbs, they are just followed by the 'bare infinitive.' Here are some examples:

I had him cut the bushes.

He let him die in peace.

The teacher made the students do the assignment.


'make' is a causative verb

The verb 'help' is called a semi-causative, because if we consider its meaning, it will get obvious that the verb is not causing something; it is actually playing a role in completing the action.
After 'help' you can use whether a 'bare infinitive' or a 'to-infinitive.' Using a 'to-infinitive' is considered more formal and using a 'bare infinitive' is less formal.

He helped me park the car.

He always helps her to get through the hard times.

Peter helped him escape from the jail.


The tense, person, and the number of these sentences' verbs only depend on the causative verb in the main clause; so the to-infinitive in the subordinating clause does not change at all.

She got her to draw the pictures.

Pinky gets a man to wash the car for her.

Indirect Object of a Causative Verb

The 'indirect object' is used directly after the causative verb. An 'indirect object' in causative voice is called the 'agent' and it can be a thing, person, proper noun, or an object pronoun. For example:

I made him buy the groceries.

Hanna gets the chef to cook for the dinner.

Lucifer helped Judy to solve the case.

Non-finite Clauses

A non-finite clause is added to the main clause. Non-finite clauses can be made of:

  • to-infinitive
  • bare infinitive
  • present participle
  • past participle

Among non-finite clauses that are mentioned above, you are familiar with clauses that are formed by the to-infinitive and the bare infinitive.
Some non-finite clauses are formed by present participle (v + ing) or past participle.
Only a few causative verbs (get, have, keep) are followed by participle non-finite clauses.

I got my hair cut.

The teacher had them practicing on the essay.

What Is The Difference between Using Past or Present Participle?

Using the present participle with causative verbs get, have, keep indicates the continuity of the action. And another difference relates to the voice of the statements. The past participle is used in passive voice while the present participle is used in active voice.
Compare these two examples:

I got him cooking for a month.

I had all the foods cooked for the ceremony.

Passive Causative Voice

Passive voice with causative verbs are categorized into two groups:

  1. passive with a deleted subject
  2. passive with a deleted agent (indirect object)

Passive with 'Get' and 'Have'

Passive voice with the causative verbs 'get and have' are different from the other causative verbs.
When we make passive sentences with get and have we omit the agent because it is not important to know who did the action. Look at the examples for more clarification:

I got my nails done.

I have had my car fixed.

In this example, it is clear that the mechanic fixed the car, so the agent is omitted.

Passive with Other Causative Verbs

With other causative verbs, you do not omit the agent. In fact, as usual, you just omit the subject and use the agent as the subject of the passive causative statement. Check out the examples:

Students were forced to drink milk.

Tina was convinced to study math at university.

'Keep' as a Causative Verb

The causative verb 'keep' is only used with present participles because it means to make something maintain in the same situation for a while so it is used in continuous form. Here are a few examples to help you learn.
Remember you cannot use 'keep' in passive form.

Please keep the engine working.

They kept the professor talking on the same project over and over.


Causative verbs are used to indicate an action that is done by the company of two or more people. In this structure, the subject does not directly do the action. Here are different participants of the causative structure.

  • subject
  • causative verbs
  • indirect object
  • non-finite clause


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