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Education Report - Everyday Grammar: Are Causatives Making You Crazy?

更新时间:2015/8/8 7:32:57 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

This week's Everyday Grammar looks at the grammatical forms called causatives. Basically, causatives express how one actor causes another actor to do something. You know the meaning of makeas in "I made a cake." But in the sentence, "My boss mademe work late," makehas a causative meaning. In other words, my boss forcedme to work late.

What are causatives?

A causative sentence starts with a subject, followed by a causative verb, then an object noun or pronoun, and then the simple form of the verb. Three of the most common causatives in English are make, have, and get.

In the book Understanding and Using English Grammar, Betty Azar explains it this way:

X makesY do something - that is, X forcesY to do something
X hasY do something - this means X requeststhat Y do something
X getsY to do something - this means X persuadesY to do something

How to use make

Let's start with the causative make. As we mentioned before, makemeans that X forces Y to do something. The meaning of the causative make is stronger than haveand get.

We often hear the causative form of makein love songs. Listen for the causative as Elton John sings.

What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard?

Elton knows, however, it is impossible - you cannot makesomeone love you.

In the movie "As Good as It Gets," actors Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt play a couple falling in love. Listen to this dramatic compliment from Nicholson's character Melvin Udall.

Nicholson: OK, now, I got a real great compliment for you. And it's true. You make me want to be a better man.
Hunt: That's maybe the best compliment of my life.

Melvin's statement is possible – she made, or caused him to want to change.

How to use have

Now let's look at the causative meaning of have. For example "I hadher cut my hair." You can also use haveto tell about a request, as in "I had him carry the bag for me." In order words, "I requested that he carry my bag."

A common mistake is using the infinitive verb form with make or have. You should notsay, "I made my cat to do a trick." The correct sentence is "I made my cat do a trick." It is easy to get confused, because this sentence is very close to a correct sentence, "I taught my cat to do a trick." This is a case where you just have to remember that makeand have,when used as causatives, act differently from other verbs.

How to use get

Finally, let's talk about get. The verb getis used in many ways, but as a causative, it means to persuadesomeone to do something they may not want to do. For example, "I gotmy son to clean his room." As a causative getworks the same way as makeand haveThe difference is, getis followed by an infinitive with to. Notice the infinitive to eatin this sentence, "We gotthe kids to eatthe broccoli."

While reporting about the new climate plan, a journalist wrote, "President Obama wants Americans to save energy and lower greenhouse gases. To do that he must get them to give up their SUVs." In other words, Obama must persuadeAmericans to stop driving SUVs.

Know your infinitives

You might have noticed that with both makeand have, the following verb is in the base form. There is no to. However, after the causative verb get, the following verb is in the infinitivewith to. For example, "I got my boss to give me a raise."

We leave you with the British singer, Sam Brown, singing George Harrison's song, "Horse to Water." Here again we hear about the impossible. Anyone who has tried to makea horse drink knows the horse must want to drink.

You can take a horse to the water
but you can't make him drink
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You can have it all laid out in front
of you but it still don't make you think
Oh no, oh no, oh no

That's Everyday Grammar for today. Until next week, don't let causatives makeyou crazy.

I'm Jill Robbins.

And I'm Jonathan Evans.

Words in This Story

causative– adj.making something happen or exist : causing something

base form– n.the base form of a verb is the simplest form, without a special ending (or suffix). It's the form that appears in dictionary entries.

infinitive form – n. English the infinitive form of a verb is usually used with to (“I asked him to go”) except with modal verbs like should and could (“He should go”) and certain other verbs like see and hear (“I saw him go”).

persuade- v. to cause (someone) to do something by asking, arguing, or giving reasons

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