A) I got my hair cut

B) I got my car cleaned

Sentences above are causitive sentences.

They mean:

A) I paid someone to cut my hair

B) I paid someone to clean my car


C) They are doing overtime to get the job done

is in the same structure with the sentences above get + something + past participle but it is not a causitive sentence.

It means

They are doing overtime to finish the job (They are doing it themselves not paying someone else to do)

Is to get + something + done a fixed phrase and is it an exception for the verb ''do''?

  • could you accept the answer? – Alexis May 2 '20 at 5:35

It's not an exception. For example, a lady can have her nails done, or she can have her hair done, which means she goes to a solon and pays for getting her nails/hair done.

But getting something done, cleaned, washed, etc. doesn't always have something to do with paying. Get + past participle means a new quality/condition of something (it's the same with adjectives, e.g. get cold/warm/expensive/tough etc). Past participles are like adjectives (which vase? - broken vase). So, if you get a vase broken, it doesn't mean you pay for it. It means you make this thing happen - you break a vase, or you get it broken.

Now, if you get a job done, you simply do the job.

BUT depending on the context, getting a job done can mean paying money for it. For example:

Can I get the job done by Friday? - Sure, it'll cost you 500$.

In the context of the sentence above it's clear that the people are talking about some service.

But your sentence is clearly about some job people have to do themselves.

So, to sum it up, to get/have something done doesn't always mean someone doing something for us. Sometimes it means our own efforts. How do we know which is meant? The answer is simple - context.

  • First of all , Thanks for your detailed answer. I just have 1 more point to make it clear. is there any difference in meaning (even in nuance) between the following sentences? a)you get a vase broken. b)you broke a vase . – ullas84 Jan 8 '19 at 12:12
  • @ullas84 The first is ambiguous as to who broke the vase. The second explicitly states who broke the vase. – Jason Bassford Jan 8 '19 at 15:44
  • @ullas84 I'd also like to add that "You broke the vase!" may be more common than "You've got the vase broken!" because it's shorter. And I second Jason's view about ambiguity. "You've got the vase broken" - it could be you or someone else breaking it for you. "You broke the vase" - there is no doubt as to who did that. – Enguroo Jan 8 '19 at 23:51

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