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My friend is visiting a mechanic now, the mechanic is fixing his car.

Someone asked me, where is your friend. What should I answer?

A: Where is your friend?

B: He is fixing his car.

He is the subject of the clause, but he isn't fixing his car by himself, actually the mechanic is fixing the car.

So, What is the right answer?

  • He is fixing his car by bringing it to a mechanic. – David Schwartz Feb 27 '17 at 6:30
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    He is at the Mechanic, getting his car fixed. – Spaniard89 Feb 27 '17 at 20:00
24

You are correct, the owner of the car is not fixing the car himself.

The phrase you are looking for is usually expressed as

He is having his car fixed.
He is getting his car fixed.
He is having a mechanic fix his car.

variations may be along the lines of

He took his car to get fixed.
He took his car to the shop.

  • Many people drop their cars off to be fixed. I don't think your first three sentences answer the "Where is your friend?" question very well. I'd suggest, "He is at the shop getting his car fixed." – J.R. Feb 26 '17 at 20:27
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    @J.R. that's just being pedantic. There is an implication that you're answering the whereabouts of a person by stating some activity that they're involved with. If you're out with an office colleague and they ask about where a third colleague may be and you answer "Oh, he's downloading the new patch". That automatically implies he's in a location that questioner would assume (office), rather than being anywhere else in the world. Even something as "he's eating his orange", may lack a fixed location, however contextually, it may make sense. – A. Lau Feb 26 '17 at 22:21
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    @A.Lau - Except if he's downloading the new patch, he's doing the work. The O.P. specifically asks about situations where he's not doing the work. While I agree that Peter's examples work fine for things like, "He's getting his teeth cleaned," or, "She's getting her hair done," (or even, "He's getting his oil changed,") I don't think it works as well with "He's getting his car fixed, because that's not typically a while-you-wait job. – J.R. Feb 26 '17 at 22:50
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    @A.Lau - If I say, "I'm getting my car fixed tomorrow," chances are I won't be at the garage. That's all I was saying. I didn't downvote, and I didn't want to make a big deal about it. I agree with you that, given the right set-up question, "He's having his car fixed" might work. – J.R. Feb 26 '17 at 23:46
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    @J.R. and "where is he?" is sufficient setup. By the Gricean maxim of relation, "he's getting his car fixed" in response to "where is he?" must imply he's at the shop, because otherwise it would not be conveying any information relevant to the question, and so wouldn't have been said in the first place. – hobbs Feb 27 '17 at 5:55
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The other answers address the proper way to say this. However, sometimes people will actually use a form like the example in your question in informal speech (that doesn't make it correct, they just sometimes do it when they are being sloppy in their language). So if it's wrong or inaccurate, why would people use such a construction?

The answer to that is delegated responsibility. People might say the President of XYZ Company is building a new widget, or the President of the United States is negotiating a treaty. That doesn't mean that person is personally assembling a widget or negotiating, it means he is responsible for having it done. So in your example, if the answer was "He is fixing his car", the meaning would be that he is taking responsibility for having his car fixed.

Just to reiterate, I'm not saying this would be the right way to answer, or that such an answer really addresses the question for which it is a response. My only point is to explain the meaning of that construction if you were to hear someone phrase it in that way, which sometimes happens.

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    I think this raises a good point; namely, we sometimes say, "He's doing X" when in reality we mean, "He is getting X taken care of." English is flexible enough to allow for that, particularly in casual conversation. – J.R. Feb 26 '17 at 22:53
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    I agree. For example, consider the film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Mr. Blandings has other people doing the actual construction. – David K Feb 27 '17 at 13:56
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A common way to express what you're looking for is using Causatives.

He's having his car fixed.

This indicates that he contributed to some action being taken while he wasn't the direct doer.

The common causative verbs are 'make', 'have' and 'get'.

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