I'm having some trouble with breaking a causative clause into its parts of sentence. please help. for instance: I have her do my homework.

what i have figured out is: I= subject Have=verb (because when i change the tense have changes and not do) her= indirect object? do my homework= direct object/complement(a main imperative clause on its own) ?

also in instances where the object(if its an object at all) is a third person singular, such as: i made the girl make me coffee. we do not add the present simple S to the verb( in this instance make), why is that? (is it because its a bare clause, and there used to be a to-infinitive there and now only the infinitive remains?). are there more instances where the verb is just an infinitive without an S.

to sum it up: 1)how do i break a causative clause into its parts of sentence. 2)why is the second verb in a causative clause not affected by anything 3)are there more instances where a verb is not affected by tense or subject. please help. thank you all.

  • It's called a catenative construction. "Have" is here a catenative verb and "do my homework" is catenative complement of "have". The intervening noun "her" is direct object of "have". The catenative complement "do my homework" is not an imperative -- it's a non-finite clause (infinitival) , hence the use of Its plain (infinitival) verb form "do".
    – BillJ
    Feb 12, 2018 at 12:39
  • first of all thank you for your taking the time to answer me. I have a problem with this catenative verbs. in that : Wikipedia says they are verbs which are followed by other verbs, but aren't to-infinitives a type of phrase which might be a noun, an adverb, or an adjective. same goes for non-finite clauses they just seem like to-infinitive phrases to me. appreciate the help. Feb 12, 2018 at 17:10
  • The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for 'chain' and is used for clauses that have a chain of verbs, sometimes separated by a noun. In your example the two verbs are "have" and "do" which are separated by the noun "her". Wiki has some information that may help you, here link
    – BillJ
    Feb 12, 2018 at 17:15

2 Answers 2


Your example uses a bare infinitive, which is an infinitive that is not marked by a to. The words tell and bid have the same meaning, but one requires a to- infinitive and the other requires a bare infinitive:

I told him to go
I bade him go

Bare infinitives are pretty common, as they are also used after modals:

I must go

To analyse your sentence, the verb have is followed by an object and a bare infinitive clause:

I = subject
have = main verb
her = object of have, and implicit subject of the bare infinitive
do = bare infinitive
my homework = object of bare infinitive


Behavior of make, have, let (allow) in the following functional structure:

  • to make someone [him, her, them, us, me, you] do something = to "force" them to do it.

  • to have someone do something=to ask them to do it.

  • to let someone do something=to allow them to do it, give permission

  • to have/get something done (passive form) = to cause a thing to happen

[get and help work differently in active voice, they take "to", but are also causative]

The basic structures above have the nouns or pronouns after the main verb as indirect objects. Only the main verb changes. It's not: I have and she does my homework. The structure is: I have her do my homework. Her is an indirect object.

1) I make the girl bake a cake.

There is no s in the third person because there is no separate clause with a separate very from make. To make someone do something is invariable. It's not: I make + she bakes. It's: I make her bake a cake.

2) I have her do my homework every week. [present tense]

I had her do my homework last week, too. That's right, the do is invariable here, as in the example above with make.

Answering the question: The second verb is not affected because it is part of a functional structure and not a separate verb. I have given the main ones above. The only verb that changes tense is the first one.

The main verb + the indirect object (pronoun or noun) + make, have, let + the direct object are a functional unit.

Also, the only tenses that change in these structures is the tense of the first verb.

good summary of causatives that is simple to see and read

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