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In our textbook we have the correct answer to two separate questions. One reads "We have someone clean the house".

The other one reads "Someone cleans the house".

My teacher assures me that both of these forms are grammatically correct, but I don't know why. Could someone kindly explain it to me? Thank you.

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‘Someone’ like ‘anyone’, ‘everyone’ and ‘no one’ are a group of what’s known as indefinite pronouns and are always singular and require singular verbs. This is why “Someone cleans the house” is a correct and natural sounding sentence.

However, there is this idiomatic construction: to have + someone+ do something (infinitive without to) which means 'to get somebody to do something'. The verb in this case is actually an infinitive, which cannot have -s, -ed, -es or -ing added to the end. Therefore your teacher is correct in that both sentences are grammatically sound.

  • I don't understand the relevance of the indefinite pronoun. The same pattern seems to work here: "We let Fred clean the house; Fred cleans the house." – Chaim Jan 28 at 19:12
  • Oh... because you used the word "somebody" in the second paragraph I thought you were still discussing indefinite pronouns. – Chaim Jan 28 at 19:34
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[1] We have someone clean the house.

[2] Someone cleans the house.

The compound determinative "someone" is inherently singular due to the singular nominal base "one", so [2] has the expected singular verb "cleans".

"Clean" in [1] may appear to be a plural verb, but it's actually a plain form (infinitive) verb, since only an infinitival clause can satisfy the complement requirement of the causative verb "have" in your particular example.

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