- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate Skill Builders
- Category: Upper-Intermediate Skill Builders: Grammar
- Written by Chris Cotter
What are active causative verbs?
We use this structure when someone causes something to happen, or when that person causes another to take an action. For example:
Airport security had everyone remove their shoes.
The professor made his students give an oral presentation.
In both cases, the subject of each sentence (airport security and the professor) caused another action to happen (removing shoes and giving an oral presentation). These are active causatives.
What is the sentence structure?
Active causatives use the following structure:
subject | causative verb | agent | bare infinitive -or- to-infinitive | object/complement
The police | had | the witness | identify | the thief.
The HR Department | made | all staff | attend | the time management seminar.
The agent is the person/thing to whom is caused to take an action, such as: The police had the witness identify the thief. Here, the witness is the agent of the sentence.
It's also important to note that some causative verbs require the bare infinitive, namely when using have, let, and make. Other common causative actions require the to-infinitive, such as allow, convince, employ, encourage, get, help, permit, and require. For example:
The lawyer convinced the judge to lower the fine.
The teacher encouraged his students to apply for the scholarships.
How are causatives used?
As has already been stated, causative verbs demonstrate one action happening to another person/thing. The doer causes something to happen to the agent. Here are a few more examples:
The maitre d' let the movie stars jump the line and sit at the best table in the restaurant.
His boss required new employees to attend training sessions once a week.
The online magazine encouraged all readers to submit suggestions for future issues.
The devil made me do it!
Is there additional information on active causative sentences?
Modal auxiliary verbs may also be used with the causative sentence structure. Modals usually offer a suggestion, such as: The online magazine should encourage all readers to submit suggestions for future issues. The structure is:
subject | modal auxiliary verb | causative verb | agent | object/complement
Bosses | should | permit | employees | to take flex time.