I will have him believe it

What does this mean? Does this mean “I will make him believe it”?

My friends are saying have + object form is used in the sense of wish. Is it correct?

  • 2
    In your example, "have" is called a verb of causation, so your first suggestion is about right. As you say, "make" could substitute for "have" with little effect on the meaning (roughly "force" or "compel").
    – BillJ
    Jul 6, 2020 at 8:05
  • I would suggest that this is archaic - not seen anything like this in modern usage.
    – MikeB
    Jul 6, 2020 at 9:17
  • I would have him believe it means I want him to, not that I will force him to. I will have him believe it expresses some determination.
    – Peter
    Jul 6, 2020 at 12:39
  • You could easily find the answer to this question by looking in a good dictionary, which will list several possible meanings for have, for example RECEIVE/ALLOW and MAKE HAPPEN. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/have
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 9, 2020 at 0:22
  • I will have him believing it. =cause him to believe it
    – Lambie
    Apr 11, 2021 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Your friends are wrong, but not because of the use of have + object specifically.

The distinction comes from the first verb in the sentence:

  1. I will have him believe it.
    → I will make him believe it.
  2. I would have him believe it.
    → I wish he would believe it.    or
    → I consent to him believing it.

It's not only the use of have + object that determines the meaning, but its use in combination with the particular tense of the auxiliary verb being used.

Note that the second sentence can have more than one interpretation.

If you look at the Merriam-Webster definition of will (which includes its past tense) in its use as an auxiliary verb, you'll see that it's quite complex.

In the first sentence, it uses the "used to express futurity" sense. In the second sentence, it uses the "used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal" sense.

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