According to Cambridge Dictionary

We use the pattern have + object + infinitive without to when we talk about instructing someone to do something. We use it to emphasise who performed the action.

My question is can the object be something instead of someone? For example

I have GCC compile my C programs.


3 Answers 3


Yes, your example works. But you can only do that in a limited number of situations.

You would not say "I have the vacuum clean my carpets", or "I have the oven cook some potatoes".

  • I guess it works only with somethings that are living or if someone is a something, Artificial intelligence perhaps? Nov 23, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    An organization with some agency: "I have the security company sweep my office for bugs", "I have the district court issue an injunction". A device that's a proxy for a person: "I have the answering machine take all my calls"
    – John Feltz
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:02

I do not like your version. I would say either of these two:

"I have GCC to compile my C programs." OK

"I use GCC to compile my C programs." Better

There is no sense in which you instruct GCC to do something. You command a computer to execute the GCC compiler along with parameters that specify where the program source is to be found.

  • 1
    This answer is misleading. I have GCC compile my programs and I have GCC to compile my programs are both valid, and mean entirely different things.
    – verbose
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:50

I guess it's possible, yet it's this construction that means "to give someone the responsibility to do something." [have + person + verb]

But these examples sound right to me:

  • Can I have the robot do the cleaning of the floor today?
  • I have my laptop bot remind of my daily tasks.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .