Causative Verbs – Make, Let, Have and more. (2 videos)

When we want to indicate that one thing causes another, we generally use a causative verb. These verb are very common and useful in English, but not always easy to use correctly.

There’s a lot to cover so this is a two part lesson. In the first video we see lots of examples and check the meanings of the most common English causative verbs (make, let, and have). In the second video we look at the grammar structures, so you know the patterns to follow to avoid mistakes.

VIDEO ONE

English causative verbs script video one

What’s that for?
I’m going to hypnotize you
Really?
Yes. Just look at the pendant.
OK.
And let your body relax.
You’re not going to make me do anything stupid, are you?
Oh no.

Hi everyone! In this lesson we’re looking at causative verbs. So what are causative verbs?
Well, sometimes things just happen. And sometimes other people or things make them happen. They cause them to happen. When we want to talk about that, we use causative verbs. So they’re verbs about causing things and there are lots of them.
There’s a lot to cover here so in part one of this lesson we’re going to look at the most common ones and what they mean, and in part two we’ll look the patterns they follow. They’re a bit unusual, so we’ll fix some common mistakes.
Let’s start with most common verb. Make. One of the meanings of make is cause. For example, cold temperatures make water freeze. Hot air makes balloons rise. One thing causes another. It makes it happen.

Jay, do these jeans make my bum look big?
Err, yep.
Oh!
Oh. They make you look great.

Only you could make a woman feel like this. All I want is to be in your arms, now and always.

We often use ‘make’ with adjectives to say what causes a feeling or state. For example, heights make me dizzy. Spiders make me nervous.

What’s this?
It’s marmite. It’s good for you. It makes you strong and healthy.
But it tastes terrible.
No, it doesn’t.

So the effect of eating marmite is you get stronger and healthier. We also use make to talk about forcing or requiring people to do things.

Jay this kitchen’s a mess. We need to clean it up before Graham and Carole come.
She always makes me clean up before guests come.

You’re not going to make me do anything stupid, are you?
Oh no.

So ‘make’ can mean cause, force or require. OK. Let’s look at another causative verb – have. See if you can work out what ‘have’ means here.

I love taking Carter out for his walk, but I’m not always home. When I’m not here, I have the dog walker take him out.

Can you work out what ‘have’ means? When we have someone do something, we make arrangements for them to do it. We don’t force them, but we give them the responsibility to do it. Perhaps we employ them and we can instruct them to do it.

The elevator’s broken down. I had to climb up ten flights of stairs.
Oh dear. Oh. Hello.
Vicki I’ve got a package for you, but the elevator’s broken down.
Yeah, I’ve just heard. Don’t worry I’ll have Jay carry it up.
It’s quite heavy.
Oh, no problem. I’ll have him come and collect it now.

OK, now we’re going to look at one more verb – let. It has a very different meaning to make and have. See if you can work out what it is.

I’ll let you have it.
Oh, thank you.

Come on Vicki. It’s time to go to the gym.
Oh, do we have to?
Yes, go and get ready. She’d sit here all day if I let her.

Just look at the pendant.
OK.
And let your body relax.

Did you get it? ‘Let’ means allow or permit. So when we make people do things, it’s often things they don’t want to do. But when we let people do things, it’s generally things they want to do.

What time do your parents make you go to bed?
At 10 o’clock.
10 o’clock. Is that a bit early for you?
Yes.
Do they ever let you stay up later than that?
No.
Ah, never mind

So let’s review. We use ‘make’ when we require people to do things they don’t want to do, and ‘let’ when we allow them to do things they do want to do, and we use ‘have’ when we arrange for people to do things.
And that’s it! Now you know the meanings of the three most common causative verbs. In part two, we’re going to go deeper and look at the grammar because these verbs follow an unusual pattern. So make sure you subscribe to this channel so you don’t miss it and see you next week!

VIDEO TWO

Causative verbs script video two

Welcome back to part two of our video on causative verbs. Last week we looked at the meanings of three common causative verbs. You can see part one here if you missed it. This week we’re going to look at some grammar and fix some common mistakes.
There are lots of causative verbs and ‘make’, ‘let’ and ‘have’ are the most common ones. They’re all irregular so it’s make, made, made, let, let, let and have, had, had. Easy, huh? The tricky thing is the pattern they follow when they’re causative verbs, and it’s this. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. Let’s see an example.

What does your dad do if the room is a mess – if your bedroom is a mess?
He makes me sort out my clothes and put them away.

‘Sort out’ and ‘put away’ are phrasal verbs. Sort out means organize and tidy and when we put things away we put them in the place they’re kept.

He makes me sort out my clothes and put them away.

Notice the structure here. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. It’s the same with the verb ‘let’.
Do your parents let you eat ice cream for breakfast?
Well actually, unfortunately, no.
No.
But they let me eat pancakes.
Notice the structure here. There’s the causative verb, then the person who does the action, and then the action. It’s the same with the verb ‘let’.

Do your parents let you eat ice cream for breakfast?
Well actually, unfortunately no.
No.
But they let me eat pancakes.
Oh well they’re very nice, aren’t they?
And some maple syrup.

So make and let follow the same structure. We’ve got the causative verb, the person who does the action, and then the action. Now here’s the thing. Suppose we change the verbs ‘make’ and ‘let’ to the verbs force and allow. They’re causative verbs too. If we use them the meaning stays the same, but look what happens to the structure.
There’s a ‘to’ there. But after make and let, we don’t say ‘to’. That’s strange. After most verbs we put ‘to’, but not with make and let. And it’s the same with the causative verb ‘have’.

Sometimes I walk Carter myself and sometimes I have the dog walker take him out

We could also say ‘get’ here. Get is another causative verb and it means the same thing as have, but the pattern is different.

Sometimes I get the dog walker to take Carter out.

In structures with ‘get’, we say to.

The elevator’s broken down. I had to climb up ten flights of stairs.
Oh dear. Oh. Hello?
Vicki, I’ve got a package for you, but the elevator’s broken down.
Yeah, I’ve just heard. Don’t worry. I’ll have Jay carry it up.
It’s quite heavy.
No problem. I’ll get him to come and collect it now.

So remember, ‘make’ ‘let’ and ‘have’ – we don’t say ‘to’. That’s the first tricky thing.
Now the next tricky thing. What about the past tense? If something happened in the past, which verb is going to take the tense? The causative verb or the other verb? Let’s see. We’ll watch a story and then I’ll ask you some questions about it.

And then the princess married the prince and they lived happily ever after.
Is that it?
Yeah, it’s time for you to go to sleep now.
Can’t I have one more?
All right then.
Layla, it’s time for you to go to sleep now.
We’re just going to read one more story.
Just one more.
Oh all right then.
Are you asleep?
Yep. He’s fast asleep.

OK, I’ve got two questions for you. First one. What did we let Layla do? We let her stay awake a little longer.

We let Layla have one more story. Perhaps it’ll make her sleepy

Next question. What made Layla’s dad sleepy? It was the book.

The story made him fall asleep.

So which verb took the past tense? The causative verb. The other verb doesn’t change. Let’s have another example.

Someone’s at the door. Can you make Carter go to his crate?
Sure. Carter, crate. Good boy. Down. Good boy.
Have they gone?
Yes, you can let him out now.
Carter, come. Good boy. Such a good boy.
So first we made Carter go to his crate and then we let him come out.

It’s the causative verb that takes the tense.
Great. Now there’s just one other thing you should know. It’s about the verbs ‘have’ and ‘get’. We often use them in the passive, so we talk about having things done and getting things done. We’ve made another video about that. Click here and you can watch it.
And make sure you subscribe to this channel because we have new videos every week. Watching our videos will MAKE your English rise to new levels! See you next Friday. Bye!

I have the dog walker…. hah hah. Sometimes I get the dog walker.. ha. I love taking Carter out for his… ha. Good boy. Turn around. Turn around. Hah hah hah. Sometimes I get the dog walker to take Carter out.

Click here to learn how we use the causative verbs ‘have’ and ‘get’
And click here to learn more English grammar
Click here to download Fix it – our free checklist that will help you avoid common mistakes.
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