Syntax: Active Causative Verbs
Causative verbs are used to show that someone/something causes a second someone/something to do an action.
The most common causatives are make, have, let, get, and help. There are many others that are used less frequently. Causatives go after the subject and before the object.
I make you read this sentence.
I have you read this sentence.
I let you read this sentence.
I get you to read this sentence.
I help you (to) read this sentence.
Causative verbs are used to show that one noun (someone/something) causes a noun form (someone/something) to do an action (verb). Different causative verbs convey different kinds of causation. Choosing the correct causative for a situation may mean choosing the difference between two ways of looking at the same situation. For example:
The teacher makes the students do their work.
The teacher helps the students do their work.
These two sentences could describe the same situation, but they cause the reader to imagine this situation differently.
Be careful: Some causative verbs are followed by object+infinitive, while some are followed by object+base form verb.
The tense of the causative verb changes, but the tense of the main verb stays the same:
- Tom gets us to paint the fence.
- Tom got us to paint the fence yesterday.
- Tom has gotten us to paint the fence.
- Tom was getting us to paint the fence yesterday.
- Tom has been getting us to paint the fence for a while.