1- We had a man singing to us as we sat in the restaurant having our meal.

2- We had a strange woman come to the door selling pictures.

3- I just had them doing stretch routines, and after, they got really good at it.

4- A: Is there running water? B: Of course, there is running water. B: Oh, but I wouldn't use it. It is very contaminated. We had three dogs die in the well.

5- I have half the Committee coming tonight.

What is the difference between "have someone do" and "have someone doing" ?

1 Answer 1


Phrases you mentioned in present continuous do describe an ongoing action, but the phrases with have someone do in present didn't refer to an ongoing action.

You may ask how about the 5th phrase, you can use present continuous for future plans, like below:

  • what are you doing this weekend ?
  • I am playing soccer this weekend
  • I am working this Saturday.
  • I am visiting tonight
  • I just don't understand which version to use in appropriate context. For example: Why does sentence 1 use continuous form while sentence 2 uses infinitive form? Aug 13, 2019 at 23:32
  • 2
    @Talha - Because they were written that way. There's no reason we couldn't say: We had a man sing to us as we sat in the restaurant having our meal. Or: We had a strange woman coming to the door selling pictures. It's not like one version is correct and the other is wrong; it's more about slightly different nuances. Did the woman come to the door to sell just once, or over and over again? If just once, we'd probably use come, but if it was over and over again, we might use coming.
    – J.R.
    Aug 13, 2019 at 23:46
  • @J.R. Thank you. Can we use infinitive form in the sentence 5 since "coming tonight" is a one-time event. Aug 14, 2019 at 8:38
  • @Talha - Sentence 5 is fine as is.
    – J.R.
    Aug 14, 2019 at 9:25

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