Have something done vs. get something done

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Have something done = When we talk about something that someone else did for us or for another person, we use a causative verb with the construction have something done (have + object + past participle). In other words, the subject caused the action to happen, but didn’t do it themselves: maybe they paid, or asked, or urged the other person to do it. For example: I fixed my car. (This means I fixed my car myself). If we paid someone to fix it, we could say: Someone fixed my car. However, if we don’t want to bring that someone into the picture, we can say: I had my car fixed. In some way, this using a causative verb is similar to using a passive. What is important here is the end result – fixing and not the subject – who did it?

 

Get something done = We can also use get something done (get + object + past participle) in the same way and with the similar meaning to ‘have’: I got my car fixed. When did you last get your hair cut?

 

Notice that the difference between have and get something done is that have is slightly more formal than get and that we use get more frequently than have in the imperative form.

 

Also, notice that we can use the causative in any tense or verb form. The only part of the structure that we change is the verb to have (or get): I’ve just had the car fixed. You don’t need to have the car fixed. Are you getting the car fixed soon? I got the car fixed yesterday. I’ll get the car fixed tomorrow.

 

Some example sentences of have/get something done

 

Amelia had/got her essay checked.

I’ll have/get my hair cut on Saturday.

She had/got her sewing machine fixed.

I‘ll have/get the oil in my car changed.

He had/got his pocket picked in Piccadilly.

Grandpa needs to have/get his eyes tested.

Have you ever had/got your wallet stolen?

He had/got her foot burned in the fire.

Mrs. William had/got her house painted last week.

They‘re having/getting their house redecorated.

They had/got their house rebuilt after the earthquake. 

How often do you have/get your car inspected?

Have you ever had/got your photo taken professionally?

How often do you have/get your food delivered?

Would you like to have/get your hair straightened?

We have/get the house decked with flowers every Christmas.

 

Have someone do something (have + person + infinitive) = We can also use the construction ‘subject + have + person + infinitive’. This construction is very similar to ‘have something done‘. However, this time we say who did the thing – we talk about the person who we asked to do the thing for us:

I had the mechanic fix my car.

I’ll have the plumber take a look at the sink tomorrow.

Teacher had Liam write the answers on the whiteboard.

The doctor will have the nurse take the patient’s temperature.

 

Get someone to do something (get + person + to + infinitive) = We also use the construction ‘get + someone + to + infinitive’. Again, this indicates that we cause the other person to do the action, maybe by paying them to do it, or by asking them to do it, or by urging them to do it:

I hate washing, so I usually get my sister to do it.

Mrs. Wilson got the maid to clean under the carpet.

I’m not good at driving, so I usually get my cousin to get to the mall.

Mother got Emma to do the chores by promising her to let her play in the park.

The teacher is going to get the students to punish by holding each other’s ears.

 

In these examples, we focus more on the subject who caused the action rather than the action itself.

 

Have + object + infinitive without to = When we talk about instructing someone to do something, we use the construction have + object + infinitive without to. We use it to emphasise who performed the action:

I’ll have Jack book the tickets for the concert. (I will instruct Jack to book the tickets for the concert. Here, the emphasis is on who will do the action more than on the action).

Grandma had Amelia make us all some coffee.

 

Have + object + -ing form or infinitive without to = When we talk about an event or experience, we use the -ing form for an event in progress and the infinitive without to for a completed event:

We had a strange man come to the neighbourhood selling artificial jewellery.

We had a man driving us to Pikes Peak Highway as none of us were comfortable with hill driving.

 

We can sometimes use the -ing form to describe an ongoing action that someone or something is causing:

His story had us wondering so much. (His story was making us wondered)

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