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As we all know, causatives are usually used to say that someone makes something for us. Then why is this sentence acceptable?

I have a lot of people ask me whether it's possible to achieve their goals.

Is there an explanation? And what is the difference if I say:

A lot of people ask me if it's possible [...]

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    "Have" is not causative in your example, but the stative use of "have" expressing 'experience'. A decent example of causative "have" is "Have your mechanics look at my car", where "have" means "arrange for". A stronger use of causative "have" is found in such examples as "They had Ed unlock the safe", where "have" means 'compel' or 'make'.
    – BillJ
    Jul 17, 2020 at 17:36

2 Answers 2

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As we all know

I bet more than 95% of adults stopped on the street in native English-speaking countries would say no to the question "do you know about causatives in English grammar?".

why causative here?

It's not a causative. Dictionary.com and wiktionary.org show 26 different definitions for the verb "have". There are many alternatives to the causative form of the word.

In this case:

To experience, go through, undergo:
We had a hard year last year, with the locust swarms and all that.
He had surgery on his hip yesterday.
I'm having the time of my life!

Also similar to this:

Used to state the existence or presence of someone in a specified relationship with the subject.
I have two sisters.
She doesn't have any friends.
I have a really mean boss.

And what is the difference if I say:

A lot of people ask me if it's possible [...]

Approximately the same. No difference.

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Your first sentence simply means that

I come across a lot of people who ask me whether it's possible to achieve their goals.

Or

There are a lot of people who ask me whether it's possible to achieve their goals.

Or again

My experience is that a lot of people ask me whether it's possible to achieve their goals.

This use of have may be quite common in practice, but it is definitely not causative.

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