I was listening Somebody That I Used Know (Gotye ft. Kimbra), I realize there's a phrase that is in the base form.

Have your friends collect your records and then change your number...

...had me believing it always something that I'd done

In theses phrases have is not being used as an auxiliary verb or to have. I know there are a lot of uses for "have" in its imperative form, like "Have fun", "Have a happy New Year", "Have a good trip", but it is always about to have something.

So, my questions are:

  • Is it right to use have or make in this phrases?
  • Doesn't make more sense make and made here?
  • 1
    "Have" is a verb of causation in your first example, which is fine. Imperatives require a plain form of the verb, so your second example is not an imperative clause. It looks like an example of ellipsis of the subject pronoun, such as "he".
    – BillJ
    Jul 13, 2020 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Have is a very overloaded word in English that has a few very unrelated meanings.

One of those is to have X Y, it means

  • cause X to do or complete Y

  • how X is caused to do Y is not defined and is up to whoever is doing the "having", but forcing X to Y is typically not implied (if it is, you'd say make X do Y instead of have X do Y).

Have your brother call me.

This means to cause "your brother" to "call me."

Ways this could be accomplished: you might ask your brother to do that, or you might be in a business setting and assign him this as a task.

This sense of have is often used as an imperative.

Have X with no Y. used as imperative, typically means "consume, eat, or enjoy X". If X is food, this is common.

Have some french fries.

Don't use this when X is a person because it could have erotic implications. If you don't know what Y is in have X Y, say something like this:

Have Jon do it / this / that / something / anything.

Have Jon do whatever is needed.

Have X in the sense of I possess X isn't usually used imperatively to mean I'm asking you to possess X. You typically need to use get X or take X instead.

I have 3 dollars.

Take the 3 dollars / Get the 3 dollars.

Though someone who has a bunch of dollar bills in their hand and is waving them around and giving them away might say Have 3 dollars.


Idiomatic usages:

  1. to have someone do something (verb):
  • Have them pick me up at three o'clock. [make it so they do, tell them to do it] [Yes, that is an imperative form]
  1. to have someone [believe, think, do, etc.] something (can be a clause or not)
  • They had me thinking you knew how to sew clothes. [lead someone to think]

  • She had you thinking the dog was really barking. [lead you to think]

  • There's no hyphen between "pick" and "me". Jul 13, 2020 at 19:16

"Have" in this context means "cause to happen".

"Have" is less imperative than "make" when used like this.

"Make your friends collect your records" has connotations of forcing them to do it.

"Have your friends collect your records" would be more like "Arrange for it to be convenient for your friends to collect your records as a favour to you".

"... had me believing" again means your belief is a personal response to something you may have passively absorbed, while "made me believe" would tend to be used if someone had made a specific effort to convince you that piece of information is true.

  • "have" may be less forceful with regard to the action upon your friends, but it's still an imperative verb directed at you. Jul 13, 2020 at 19:12
  • @JackO'Flaherty Don't understand, can you clarify? Jul 13, 2020 at 19:15
  • Yes, sure. You said "have" is less imperative than "make". I think both are actually unqualified imperative verb forms, directed at the hearer. There is a difference in the implied forcefulness of the actions called for, but the verbs are still imperative. Whether I say "Coax him." or "Force him!", both expressions are imperative. Jul 13, 2020 at 20:11
  • Both "have" and "make" mean, roughly, "compel", though "make" is stronger than "have".
    – BillJ
    Jul 14, 2020 at 9:41
  • @JackO'Flaherty I think there's definitely a difference: "make" suggests that the request is to be backed by force or some other form of compulsion, perhaps because of reluctance on behalf of the recipient of the request. OTOH "have" assumes that the recipient of the request is willing and compliant. It's a matter of good manners. Jul 14, 2020 at 12:05

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