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Is this sentence correct?

I had my dishes washed by the dishwasher.

or this form of grammar (have something done) is used "only" when "someone" is paid to do something for us?

Thank you

3 Answers 3

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I think this is very borderline.

@astralbee says that we don't say that a tool did a job, but rather that a person used a tool to do a job. There's truth to this, but I don't think that's an absolute rule. I think it depends a great deal on just how automatic the tool is.

"A hammer put in these nails." Unlikely. Yes, we would be more likely to say, "I used a hammer to put in these nails."

But, "The robot vacuum cleaner cleaned the carpet." I wouldn't hesitate over that for a moment.

A dishwasher is somewhere in the middle. If someone said, "The dishwasher washed the dishes", I'd accept that as a perfectly reasonable statement. Sure, you had to put the dishes in the dishwasher, load it with soap, maybe other preparations. It's not like it just went and picked the dishes up itself. But still, it's pretty automatic, it does a good deal of the job all by itself. And if Bob collected all the dirty dishes and put them in the sink and then Sally washed them, I don't think anyone would quibble if you said, "Sally washed the dishes."

"I had my dishes washed by a dishwasher" seems a little awkward to me, but I can't put my finger on why. Compare to, "I had my dishes washed by the maid". I wouldn't have any problem with that.

So I have this "gut feel" that that's a funny wording and I wouldn't say it, but I can't give a good reason why not.

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I don't know of any rules preventing this and I'd certainly not be surprised if I heard it used for appliances.

I'd consider changing the sentence to this though:

I have had my dishes washed by the dishwasher.

Or, more naturally:

My dishes have been washed by the dishwasher.

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  • While grammatical, I'd say both are somewhat unusual. More common, to me, would be I washed my dishes in the dishwasher. (Which is understood figuratively, rather than in the literal sense of the actual words in the sentence.) It's in contrast to I washed my dishes by hand or I washed my dishes in the sink. Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 16:55
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I don't think it sounds natural at all.

A dishwasher is an appliance, a tool. It doesn't just pick your dishes up at your request and wash them for you. It requires your manual intervention.

You wouldn't say:

I had the nails knocked in by a hammer.

You would say:

I knocked the nails in with a hammer.

I think the most natural and common way to express what you are trying to say would be:

I used the dishwasher to wash the dishes.

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