Causative Verbs  

What is a causative verb?

Causative verbs indicate that a person, place, or thing is causing an action or an event to happen. Causative verbs are followed by a noun or pronoun and a non-causative verb in either the infinitive or base form; these non-causative verbs describe the action that the subject has caused to happen.
Examples of causative verbs include the words enable, cause, have, force, let, keep, hold, got and require. Here are some examples of causative verbs being used in sentences.
  • “He let his dog run through the field.”
  • “Did you get Jonathan to do his homework last night?”
  • “The bigger house enabled the family to have more room for their belongings.”
  • “The new dress code forced the students to wear different shoes.”
  • “The landlord kept his property to rent it out to tenants.”

Tense

Because the non-causative verb is always in the base or infinitive form (meaning it is not inflected), the tense of the sentence depends on the conjugation of the causative verb. Causative verbs can take the past, present, or future tense. Here are some examples of each:

Past

  • “The woman caused the accident to occur by driving carelessly.”
  • “The law required a person to obtain a permit before hunting on public land.”

Present

  • “The store holds certain items on layaway to sell to customers at a later date.”
  • “They are getting their accountant to look into tax breaks for their business.”

Future

  • “The manager of the store will force her employees to work shorter hours in order to cut costs.”
  • “They will allow the company to install more solar panels on their roof.”

Causative verbs with other verbs in the sentence

As previously mentioned, the non-causative verbs that follow causative verbs explain the action that is being caused in the sentence. Depending on the causative verb that’s used, these non-causative verbs will either be in the infinitive or base form of the verb; in two specific certain circumstances, they may also be in the past participle form.

Infinitives

Infinitives are base-form verbs that are preceded by the particle to—for example, to run, to see, to climb, etc. The majority of causative verbs are paired with infinitives to complete their meaning, as in:
  • “He forced himself to train harder.”
  • “The woman holds on to her past memories to remember all the good times she had.”
  • “The government is requiring all citizens to carry identification at all times.”

Base form

Base-form verbs appear exactly as they would in the infinitive, except they are not preceded by the word to—they are not conjugated for tense in any way. Only three causative verbs pair with the base form of the verb instead of an infinitive: have, make, and let. For example:
  • “They let the light stay on until morning.”
  • “Albert made people remove their shoes when entering his house.”
  • “She had him prepare lots of finger foods before the guests arrived.”
There is an exception to these, however: when we use the passive voice with make, it will take the infinitive rather than the base form, as in:
  • “I’m sorry, but I was made to report my suspicions to police.”
  • “Employees are often made to feel responsible for the company’s financial woes.”
Notice that the passive voice also causes the noun or pronoun to come before the causative verb.

Past participles

Uniquely, the causative verbs have and get are also able to take the past participle of non-causative verbs if they themselves are in the past tense. For example:
  • “My mother had the car cleaned after our soccer practice.”
  • “John’s tardiness finally got him fired.”
Quiz

1. Which of the following words is a causative verb?





2. Identify the causative verb in the following sentence:
“They kept their snowblower to use whenever it snowed outside.”





3. Which of the following is not a causative verb?





4. The causative verb in this sentence is in what tense?
“The couple forced themselves to save money so they could buy their dream home.”





5. True or false: Causative verbs require another verb in a sentence.



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