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Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony had hardly entered rehearsals when the political climate turned against the composer and made his having the piece performed impossible. (Source of this sentence: Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony).

made his having the piece... I hoped him fits here. However, an expert named Tommy Wallach had said his, not him, fits here. He also explained the reason. But I cannot understand at all what he said. The sentence I have mentioned above belongs to a very old post which was posted about 11 years ago. Leaving any comment on that post may not bring any kind of help for me.

Actually I cannot understand the meaning of his having the piece performed impossible. If I could understand its meaning or if I could figure out the way by which each word is connected to each other, probably I could understand why "his" must be used instead of "him" to make this sentence correct.

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Hi, Nousher,

"Have + sth + past participle" is usually a causative construction. It means you ask, or order, other people to do something for you. Composers usually create pieces of music and have them performed by orchestras.

"having the piece performed" is similar to "the performance of the piece (by others)" and, being a noun, it takes a possessive adjective.

- The political climate made the performance of the piece impossible.

- The political climate made his having the piece performed impossible.

Hi, Nousher,

"Have + sth + past participle" is usually a causative construction. It means you ask, or order, other people to do something for you. Composers usually create pieces of music and have them performed by orchestras.

"having the piece performed" is similar to "the performance of the piece (by others)" and, being a noun, it takes a possessive adjective.

- The political climate made the performance of the piece impossible.

- The political climate made his having the piece performed impossible.

I like to give an example to clarify whether I have understood your explanation. 

 

For example, I will have my hair cut. Due to corona virus, hair salons are closed. Can I say corona virus has made my having my hair cut impossible?

For example, I will have my hair cut. Due to corona virus, hair salons are closed. Can I say corona virus has made my having my hair cut impossible?

Yes, though a little far-fetched that sentence is perfectly grammatical. Naturally, we would say something like: The quarantine has made it impossible for me to have/get my hair cut / to get a haircut.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

Yes, though a little far-fetched that sentence is perfectly grammatical. Naturally, we would say something like: The quarantine has made it impossible for me to have/get my hair cut / to get a haircut.

That's an excellent way to paraphrase the construction, Gustavo.

Nousher, it may interest you to know that your original example can be paraphrased in the same way:

  • The political climate made it impossible for Shostakovich to have the Fourth Symphony performed.
  • The political climate made it impossible for Shostakovich to have an orchestra perform the Fourth Symphony.
  • Because of the political climate, it was impossible for Shostakovich to have the Fourth Symphony performed.
  • Because of the political climate, Shostakovich could not have the Fourth Symphony performed.
  • The political climate prevented Shostakovich from having the Fourth Symphony performed.
  • The political climate prevented Shostakovich from having an orchestra perform the Fourth Symphony.

I like to give an example to clarify whether I have understood your explanation.

For example, I will have my hair cut. Due to corona virus, hair salons are closed. Can I say corona virus has made my having my hair cut impossible?

Incidentally, your example parallels the Shostakovich example only if you intend "hair cut" as a noun plus a past participle rather than as a compound noun, which is normally spelled as a closed compound ("haircut"/"haircuts") or as a hyphenated compound ("hair-cut"/"hair-cuts").

To clarify the other construction (noun plus past participle), we can change from the passive causative (having something done) to a normal causative (having somebody do something), all within the context of the nominal -ing phrase: "The virus has made my having them cut my hair impossible." Paraphrase:

  • The virus has made it impossible for me to have them cut my hair.
Last edited by David, Moderator

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