In the English language, verbs play an integral role in sentence structure. If you’re fluent in English, you’re likely familiar with verbs and their usage. Various types of verbs exist, contributing to the meaning and clarity of a sentence. One notable type is causative verbs.

Native English speakers may already use causative verbs in written and spoken English, possibly without officially recognizing the term, as it holds significance as a verb type and adds layers of depth to a sentence. This article will explore the basic definitions of causative verbs and look at examples to illustrate the concept.

What is a Verb?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a ‘verb’ as “a word or phrase expressing an action, condition, or experience.” [4] A verb is a linguistic element that elucidates the activity of the sentence’s subject. Verbs encompass the ability to signify both physical and mental actions, events, or states of being. Every sentence needs to incorporate at least one verb. In its simplest form, a sentence can comprise solely a single verb in the imperative form, as in the example, “Run.” In this instance, the implied subject is “you.”

What are Causative Verbs? 

In English grammar, a causative verb is employed to signify that an entity, whether a person or an object, instigates or contributes to an event unfolding. Examples of causative verbs encompass terms such as “make,” “cause,” “allow,” “help,” “have,” “enable,” “keep,” “hold,” “let,” “force,” and “require.” [1] They’re like conductors orchestrating a symphony, guiding your words to convey the action and the instigator behind it. These verbs are also interchangeably known as causal verbs or simply causatives.

Typically appearing in various tenses, a causative verb is usually accompanied by an object and another verb form, frequently an infinitive or a participle. These constructions articulate events transpiring due to the influence of a person, place, or thing whose actions bring about changes in another entity. Interestingly, the term “cause” diverges from the typical causative verb archetype in English. Contrary to its less frequent and specific usage, the term “make” assumes a more prevalent role in indicating someone instigating an event.

Popular Causative Verbs: A Quick Rundown

Understanding causative verbs involves recognizing their diverse types. There are four popular causative verb examples in English:

  • Causative Have: This type involves arranging for someone else to perform an action. For instance, “I had my website redesigned.”

  • Causative Make: This is about forcing someone to do something against their will. Consider, “She made him complete the task.”

  • Causative Get: This type revolves around persuading or convincing someone to take action, as in, “I got him to fix the issue.”

  • Causative Let: This causative verb means to permit someone to perform a specific action. For example, “Do not let dogs enter the garden.” [2]

Usage of Causative Verbs

Causative verbs enhance sentence meaning and clarity, such as let, allow, permit, make, force, require, have, have, help, and keep. They are followed by an object and another verb form, like the base or root form, an infinitive (to + base verb form), or a participle.

Let, Allow, and Permit

These verbs, with similar meanings, grant permission or make actions possible. Let is informal, permit is formal, and allow falls in between. Their sentence structures differ, with let followed by the object and base verb, while allow and permit use the object followed by ‘to + verb.’

Examples:

  • He lets his children have ice cream after dinner.

  • I can only permit students to leave the classroom with prior permission.

  • My mom allows me to use the car only if I fill the gas tank.

Make, Force, and Require

These verbs compel action but vary in formality and structure. Make is common, force is less common, and require is the most formal. Make uses the object and base verb, while force and require use the object followed by ‘to + verb.’

Examples:

  • We made him finish the assignment before leaving.

  • She forced him to apologize for his mistake.

  • The job requires you to submit a detailed report by Friday.

Get

The causative verb ‘get’ convinces or tricks someone into an action. It is followed by the object and to + verb. It can also be used with a past or present participle for various meanings.

Examples:

  • I got him to sign the permission slip.

  • She will get her hair cut tomorrow.

  • Our conversation got me thinking.

Have

‘Have’ authorizes or pays for an action. The object and either the base verb or past participle follow it.

Examples:

  • I’ll have the chef prepare a special dish for you.

  • I had my house painted last month.

  • He had the computer repaired by a professional.

Help

The causative verb ‘help’ assists and can be used with the base form or infinitive.

Examples:

  • She helped me understand the complex concept.

  • Running helps him stay fit and active.

Keep

‘Keep’ prolongs an action and is followed by an object and a present participle.

Examples:

  • The teacher kept the students practicing the dance routine.

  • I’ll keep you updated about any changes in the schedule. [3]

Words Used after the Causative Verb

Causative Verb

Object + Base or root form of the verb

Let
Make
Help

Object + Infinitive (To + Verb)

Permit
Allow
Force
Require
Get
Have
Help

Object + Past Participle

Get
Have

Object + Present Participle

Get
Keep

Conclusion

Ready to elevate your language game? Practice using causative verbs in your daily conversations and writing. The more you wield them, the more effortlessly they’ll become a part of your linguistic repository. Armed with the knowledge of causative verbs, you now possess the tools to infuse your expressions with intention and flair. Language is not just about words; it’s about the stories they tell. Unleash the power of causative verbs and watch your narratives come alive.

References:

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-causative-verb-1689833#:~:text=Examples%20of%20causative%20verbs%20include,causal%20verbs%20or%20simply%20causatives.

  2. https://grammarist.com/grammar/causative-verbs/

  3. https://study.com/learn/lesson/causative-verbs-form-overview-examples.html

  4. https://byjus.com/english/verbs/#:~:text=The%20Oxford%20Learners’%20Dictionary%20defines,%2C%20condition%2C%20or%20experience%E2%80%9D.