2

A seven year-old Indian girl has complained to the police to have her father arrested after he failed to build a toilet in their home as promised.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/12/seven-year-old-indian-girl-tries-have-father-arrested-fails

Why the writer used to have her father arrested not simply to arrest her father?

My guess is that form indicates surprising .. when we should rather use that form?

1

We use have + object + -ed form when we talk about someone doing something for us which we ask or instruct them to do. It emphasises the process/action rather than who performs it:

We’re having the house painted next week. (We are not going to paint the house ourselves. Someone else will paint it. The emphasis is on the fact that the house is being painted rather than who is doing it.)

Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/passive/have-something-done

to have her father arrested type of sentences are called Causatives meaning to get her father arrested (by that seven year-old Indian girl), whereas to arrest her father is a simple sentence which does not fit in this scenario unless A seven year-old Indian girl had authority to do so (ie to arrest someone).

1
1

The answer to your question lies with the verb complain.

When you think that to arrest her father is a valid complement, you're treating complain as if it were the same as ask or want :

She asked the police to arrest her father.

She wanted the police to arrest her father.

But complain is not quite like those verbs. We complain to someone:

a) about something

b) that something is such and such ...

c) IN ORDER TO do something on our own behalf

d) IN ORDER TO have them do something on our behalf

It is the sense of "in order to" which makes complain different from ask and want.

This doesn't make sense:

She complained to the police in order to arrest her father.

because she wanted them to do something:

She complained to the police in order to have them arrest her father.

or

She complained to the police in order to have her father (be) arrested (by them).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.