Does "to have + someone + Past Participle" have an ambiguity?

You must have me confused with someone else.

When I saw this sentence for the first time, I was confused because only thing I knew about that kind of structure was a causative verb structure. But I found out that that means not only "You must be mistaking me for other person", but also is completely grammatical.

So, my guess is that the said structure has two possible meanings depending on the contexts.

  1. He had her confused with someone else.

This means simply the same thing with the example above. "He mistook her for someone else".

  1. He had her confused and ran away.

This means "She got confused and failed to catch him".

Am I right? If not, please correct me.

PS: By the way, are both of those two 'have' in No.1 and No.2 the Resultative Have?

1 Answer 1


You are correct about sentence 1 and your original sentence. “X has Y confused with Z” means X thinks Y is actually Z; X is mixing up Y and Z. This is an idiomatic expression and I don’t think “X has Y [some other verb’s past participle]” would be ambiguous in that X could be the subject of this past participle verb- but maybe I just can’t think of a counter-example right now.

Anyway, that brings me to sentence 2. You are correct that without the “with Z” part, “she” (“her”) is the one who is confused. But she is not the one who ran away; he is. It means “He made her confused and then he ran away” (presumably to avoid being around for when she stopped being confused and when she might have wanted to enact revenge on him.)

I believe sentence 2 has a resultative form- “she” ends up confused. I don’t think sentence 1 has this type of form. There is no completed action here; “he” was just confused for an indeterminate amount of time.

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