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Session 1

Dan's favourite bag is old and in need of repair. Can he do it himself? No, he can't. It's not one of his skills so he needs to have it fixed. He can't fix his bag himself, but he can explain the grammar needed to talk about arranging for someone else to do it.

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

BBC English Class

The causative

Some people are multi-talented. They can do just about anything they put their mind to. But everyone needs some help at some point. Could you repair your own car? Could you fix your washing machine? Could you mend your favourite bag? If you couldn't or if you don't want to do these things yourself, you need to get someone to do them for you. Grammatically we use a form called the causative to talk about this. Dan tells us all about it in the video.

Watch the video and complete the activity

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Isit B-A-N-A-N-N-A or B-A-N-A-N-A. No, B, no, A-N-A. I've got to go. I'll call you back.

Hi guys. Dan for BBC Learning English here. 

In this lesson we're going to cover the causative, which will have been explained to you in 90 seconds or less, I hope. Are you ready? Here we go.

So, check it out. This is my favourite bag in the whole wide world. I bought it in Japan about eight years ago. I desperately needed a bag, and at the time I found this in a local shop for the very low price of 500 Yen, which is next to nothing, basically. It's my favourite thing in the world, but because it's eight years old it's got some signs of wear and tear. Can you see, here? And here, mostly.
Now, I'm a pretty fantastic person, because my mum calls me every morning and says: “Dan, you’re fantastic.” But fixing a bag is not something that I can do by myself and so going to have to take it to a shop and have it repaired. Observe.

I need to have my bag repaired. This means I'm going to pay somebody to do this for me.
This is called the causative. The formula is: have + object + past participle. I need to have my bag repaired.
What's really cool about the causative is that you can use it in negatives and questions and you can use it in any tense as long as you change the ‘have’ verb. Remember that. Let me show you some examples:

  • I've had my house decorated. Present perfect.
  • Will you have the car fixed? Future simple.
  • They aren't having their pay reduced. Present continuous.

Pretty cool, right? Did you get it? I'm sure you got it. But in case you didn't, log on to bbcleanringenglish.com... (BEEP) Hah! Log on to bbclearningnenglish.com for more information and a transcript of everything that I've just said.

I've been Dan, you've been fantastic. I've got to get to the shop and have my bag repaired.


The causative is used when someone else does something for you. The structure is:

to have + object + past participle = to have something done

It can be used in questions and negatives and in any tense or verb form. The only part of the structure that changes is the verb to have, which should match the appropriate form.

  • Dad's had his car repaired.
  • He's going to have his washing machine fixed.
  • I'll have had my bag fixed before I need it next.
  • I was having my hair cut when my phone rang.

To do

Now why not test yourself with our causative quiz.

Causative quiz

5 Questions

In each question choose the correct option to make a sentence using the causative.

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Session Grammar

  • The causative

    to have something done

    to have + object + past particple

    It can be used in all tenses and verb forms as well as questions and negatives. Remember to change the verb to have accordingly.

Session Vocabulary