I came across this question while I was looking at some questions related to the causative form.

* They had their lawyer ................. their will.

 

a) changed   b) to change  c) changing  d) changes

 

According to what I know, " have " in the causative form is followed by an "infinitive". Can you give me the answer to this question ? 

 

Thanks.

Original Post

Hi, Yama,

Yama posted:

I came across this question while I was looking at some questions related to the causative form.

* They had their lawyer ................. their will.

 

a) changed   b) to change  c) changing  d) changes

 

According to what I know, " have " in the causative form is followed by an "infinitive". Can you give me the answer to this question ? 

 

Thanks.

Both 'changing' and 'change' are correct here. You can use'have (sb) doing / do (sth)'. It means to persuade or order someone to do something. 

Yama,

I agree with Ahmed.  By far, the best answer would be:

e:  They had their lawyer change their will.

But since this is not offered as an option, the only possible answer is:

c:  They had their lawyer changing their will.

As Ahmed says, this is grammatically correct.  However, as a native speaker of English, it sounds very unnatural to my ears.  It is not always possible to say why such a thing might be, but in this case I think I can make a fairly good guess.

Consider these sentences:

e':  I had George guard the back door.
c':  I had George guarding the back door.

Both of these sentences are grammatically correct and sound natural.  Because "to guard" cannot be a single instantaneous action, the meaning of (e') implies continuous action, which means that any difference in meaning that may exist between (e') and (c') is rather subtle.

e'1:  Marla came in while George guarded the back door.
c'1:  Marla came in while George was guarding the back door.

However, because "to change" does tend to indicate a single simple action in the simple past and simple present, there is a significant difference in meaning between (e) and (c).  In my mind, the meaning of (c) would be much better rendered as:

c2:  They were having their lawyer change their will.

I look forward to feedback from my fellow members, especially David, Gustavo, and Ahmed, and of course Yama, who brought this question up in the first place.

One more thing:

Yama wrote:

According to what I know, " have " in the causative form is followed by an "infinitive".

This is true, within certain limits.  I think that many exceptions have been demonstrated here already, where forms other than the infinitive will work in such a construct.  Even so, we have to make a distinction between the simple infinitive (e) and the "to + V" form (b).

(b) would have been the best answer had it been offered as the simple infinitive (without the particle "to").

DocV

Last edited by Doc V

Both 'changing' and 'change' are correct here. You can use'have (sb) doing / do (sth)'. It means to persuade or order someone to do something. 

I agree with DocV that, with "changing" referring to a single action (we can't have a lawyer changing a will on an ongoing basis), (e) is the best and (in my humble opinion) the only possible answer. The gerund will be used for durative actions, like:

f. They had their lawyer advising them on different matters. ("advise" would also be possible here to mean that the advisory service was rendered just once. If the advice was provided during a period of time, "advising" will be better.)

Here are some examples from the Longman dictionary showing the continuity or recurrence of the gerund in this kind of construct:

- Within minutes he had the whole audience laughing and clapping.

- She had me doing all kinds of jobs for her.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

Michael Swan supports Doc V's point concerning the continuous meaning. Swan says:

"Have + object + infinitive can mean 'cause somebody to do something'. This
is mostly used in American English, to talk about giving instructions or orders.
- I'm ready to see Mr Smith. Have him come in, please.
- The manager had everybody fill out a form.
The structure with an -ing form can mean 'cause somebody to be doing
something' (BrE and AmE).
- He had us laughing all through the meal.

I think Yama's question would be better with 'get'.

They got their lawyer to change / changing their will. (According to Swan that would mean: They made their lawyer start changing their will. What do you think?

 

Gustavo and Ahmed, thank you for your feedback.

Ahmed, I will say that I like "changing" with "got" better than I like it with "had", but it's still iffy at best.

I also just realized that (b) can actually work:

b:  They had their lawyer to change their will.

This makes sense in the context of:

They didn't have to change their will themselves.  They had their lawyer (on hand) to do it for them.

But in this sense, "had" isn't causative.

DocV

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