Hello I would like an explanation on this usage of have as I believe it can be used as a passive, talking about things that have happened to you not just as a causative which means that you caused for something to be done.


1.She was having her wall being painted.
2.She was having her wall be painted.
3.She was having her wall painted.
4.She had her wall being painted.
5.She had her wall painted.
6.She had her wall be painted.

Are they all correct and are there any differences regarding them being a continuous action or a quick one?

1.She was having herself being operated.
2.She was having herself be operated.
3.She had herself be operated.
4.She was having herself operated.
5.She had herself operated.
6.She had herself being operated.

Same for these what are the differences? And please let me know if any of these are incorrect.

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


The construction with causative HAVE is

HAVE DirectObject VERBen

There is no form of BE involved; the passive sense is conveyed by the past participle.

Consequently, in your first set of sentences, with PAINT, only ## 3 and 5 are correct.

3.She was having her wall painted.
5.She had her wall painted.

In your second set, with OPERATE, ## 4 and 5 would be correct, but the idiom is incorrect. We do not say that a surgeon operates a patient but that a surgeon operates on a patient. By the same token, we do not say that a patient is operated but that a patient is operated on. On is a necessary part of the idiom. Consequently, the correct forms are:

4.She was having herself operated on.
5.She had herself operated on.

In both sets, the difference between the constructions with the past simple and past progressive forms of HAVE is the same as in any other use of these constructions: the simple form signifies a completed action (perfective aspect), the progressive action signifies an action in progress (imperfective aspect). See our tag-wiki on Aspect.

A verb in italic capitals signifies ‘any appropriate form or construction of the verb’
VERBen signifies ‘the past participle of the verb you are using’

  • Thank you very much for answering, you have been very helpful.
    – user74345
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 10:23

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