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LANGUAGE:

Have something done – rules and exercises for intermediate level

Friday, 01 February 2019
A plumber fixing a tap Have something done: I had my tap fixed Designed by Freepik

This is an intermediate level English language lesson covering the situation of having something done.  Examples and exercises will help you to understand.

The present simple tense is something that comes up a lot in English, so it's important to learn it well. It is an area of English grammar that causes problems for many students. We use it in several situations:

  • For regular actions
  • For stating facts
  • For habits
  • For general truths

When we speak in the present simple tense, we use the base form of verbs like 'write' or 'work'. If we are speaking in the third person singular, we add an -s to the base form (she writes, he works). This tense means an action being described is happening in the here and now, in relation to the speaker.
It typically refers to actions that generally take place but are not actually happening right now. For example, to say, 'It snows in The Arctic', is a more timeless statement than, 'It is snowing in The Arctic', which refers to something that is taking place right now.

In the context of this article, we are using the present simple tense to describe when we have something done on our behalf. This is an intermediate level task in studying the English language and is covered in detail.

Having something done: form

The notion of having something done generally means either that it is something out of our control, or that we pay someone to do something for us. This requires the use of a causative verb.

For example, we can say the following:

"I fixed my tap." - this means I fixed it by myself.

If I paid someone to fix it, I might say:

"A plumber fixed my tap." - this is fine, but an alternative is to use a causative sentence, like this:

"I had my tap fixed." - this is similar to using a passive. The important information is that the tap is now fixed; we don't need to know who fixed it. So the structure of the statement is as follows:

Subject (I) + have/get + object (something) + past participle (done)

Pr.Simple He fixes the tap He has the tap fixed
Pr.Cont. He is fixing the tap He is having the tap fixed
Past Simple He fixed the tap He had the tap fixed
Past Cont. He was fixing the tap He was having the tap fixed
Future Simple He will fix the tap He will have the tap fixed
Future Cont.  He will be fixing the tap  He will be having the tap fixed
Pr.Perfect He has fixed the tap He has had the tap fixed 
Pr.Perf.Cont. He's been fixing the tap He's been having the tap fixed
Past Perfect He had fixed the tap  He had had the tap fixed

Have something done: uses

With these kinds of statements, to 'have something done' is a more formal expression than to 'get something done'.

For example, to say 'I have the hairdresser cut my hair' is more formal than to say 'I get my hair cut'. Statements like this can also cover the following:

  • Negative events outside of our control
  • Having someone provide a service for us
  • Or doing something ourselves with a focus on completing the task

The following table shows a range of examples of these things.

Negative events outside of our control Did you cause the negative event yourself by accident? HAVE SOMETHING DONE Example: I had my wallet stolen last week
Did someone else cause it? GET SOMETHING DONE I was trying to fix the machine yesterday and I got my finger stuck in it!
Having someone provide a service for us Was the service provided necessary and you wanted it? HAVE/GET SOMETHING DONE I had/got my hair cut last week
Was the service provided necessary but that you didn’t really want? HAVE SOMETHING DONE John had his appendicitis removed yesterday
Or doing something ourselves with a focus on completing the task   GET SOMETHING DONE I want to get the house cleaned before the guests arrive
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published in Verb patterns
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Last modified on Monday, 18 March 2019 16:35

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