Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Causative verbs in English can be confusing.

How do you know when to use ‘make’, ‘have’, or ‘get’?

Find out in today’s episode and learn why it matters.

We’ll help you know how to choose the right one in English conversations.

Asking a friend to do something

Aubrey asks Lindsay what she had someone do recently.

Lindsay has been traveling and had her friend take her dog and drop him off at a dog daycare center.

In today’s episode, you learn the different implications when asking people to do something.

Each causative verb has a slightly different meaning.

Notice that Aubrey asked Lindsay what she ‘had’ someone do.

This means she asked for someone to do something for her.

If she used ‘make’ or ‘get’, it would mean something different.

We will dive deeper into how to use these appropriately in this episode.

A listener sent a question regarding the causative verbs ‘make’, ‘have’, and, ‘get’.

Today’s question

I love your podcast the best. I have a question about causative verbs. I’ve been confused by the difference between ‘make’, ‘have’, and ‘get to’ when they’re followed by a subject and verb. If I say “I made my parents send me stuff”, it sounds like I forced them to do it whereas I’m not clear about ‘have’ and ‘get to.’ “I had my parents send me stuff.” or “I got my parents to send me stuff.”? They both sound like I asked my parents to do it but am I correct about that? Also, I’d love to know the difference between ‘have’ and ‘get to.’ We appreciate it if you could break it down for me. Thank you.

Asami from Japan

This can definitely be confusing.

You may think these mean the same, but the connotation or the feeling behind each is different.

You want to make sure you understand the difference and use the proper one.

There are related episodes you can also listen to regarding today’s topic.

You can listen to AEE 1384: The State of Stative Verbs: Don’t Get Flagged as a Lower-level Speaker.

Another is AEE 1961: Are you Down? Two English Phrasal Verbs you Should be Up For.

Causative verbs

Causative verbs are verbs that show the reason something happened.

They don’t indicate what the subject did for themselves.

The subject got someone else to do something for them.

Examples of causative verbs are:

  • Allow
  • Permit
  • Make
  • Force
  • Require
  • Have
  • Get
  • Help

The differences can be subtle with causative verbs.

Using the right one can make or break a connection.

Word choice is important in getting the right idea across.

You don’t want to use a verb that makes others misunderstand you or your intentions.

To answer Asami’s question, here is the breakdown of the difference between ‘make’, ‘get’, and ‘have’, and how to properly use them in a conversation.

#1: Make/Made

Using this implies you forced them or made them do the task against their will.

If you don’t mean to say you imposed someone to do something for you, don’t use this verb.

This can be used by people with authority, like coaches and parents.

It shows they used force or power to get someone to do something.

I made my friend watch my dog.
I made my kids do the laundry.
The coach made her players run laps.

#2: Have/Had

Unlike ‘make’, when you use ‘have’ or ‘had’ as a causative verb, you ask someone to do something for you.

You didn’t force them to do it.

There is no negative connotation.

The person is willingly doing what you asked them to do.

She had her kids clean up their room.
The teacher had her students complete an essay packet.

#3: Get/Got

If you use ‘get’, this has an implication of manipulation.

You may have tricked or convinced someone to do something.

This shows you made a conscious effort to have someone do this against their will.

I got my parents to do it.

He got his teacher to change his grade.


Now that you have learned the differences between the usage of ‘make’, ‘have’, and ‘get’, here is a quick roleplay so you can see these in daily conversation.

This will help you to easily understand how to use these causative verbs.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Aubrey are in the grocery store shopping together.

Aubrey: I had my mom send me her recipe so we can use that.
Lindsay: Oh perfect! I tried to get my mom to send me hers but she didn’t answer.
Aubrey: My mom doesn’t usually answer her phone either, but my dad was with her and he made her answer.


In making sure you use the right causative verb, think about the feeling you want to imply when sharing about making someone do something for you.

Were you requiring someone to do something, was manipulation involved or did you just ask them to do it?

You don’t want to use the wrong words and give a negative connotation to your actions when that wasn’t your intention.

Causative verbs can be tricky and you have to learn to communicate with the proper words.

This way, you don’t break a connection with whoever you’re trying to build a relationship with in English.

To ensure you make the right impression, take note of the causative verbs shared in today’s episode.

What other causative verbs do you find confusing?

Share them in the comments below.

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