When are we suppose to use "made" and "had" in a sentence?

I know that have is a causative which means 'make'. For example:

He had me wait for five minutes at the shop.

So in the same way can we use had instead of made? For example:

What on the earth had you do that?

If not, why not?

  • Interesting question! One of the reasons I like ELL is because learners sometimes ask about usage quirks that native speakers simply don't tend to notice. In the specific example in the title, had is totally "non-idiomatic" in any context I can imagine. But even though this is partly because What implies a thing rather than a person, that's not the whole story. I'm not too keen on, say, Who had you wait at the shop? Was it the sales assistant, or the store manager? I look forward to seeing an informative answer here. – FumbleFingers Dec 10 '16 at 18:36

"Have" and "make" have different meanings based on the intent, so context is very important, and there will be people who use them interchangeably.

to make someone do something

is to force them against their will to do something with prior intent and is synonymous with force

I made the kids eat all their vegetables.
I forced the kids to eat all their vegetables


to have someone do something

is usually less forceful than being "made" to do something and can be synonymous with ask

He had me wait since the delay made him late.
he asked me to wait since the delay forced him to be late

Your example

What... had you do that?
what had happened to cause you to do that

is understandable, but not really used. More often it's said

What caused you to do that?
What made you do that?

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