I was learning C2 level grammar structures when I came across this structure. It is mentioned in passive voice category. The structure is Have + Object + bare infinitive.

Now I am confused that passives are generally with the construction to be + past participle. Is this an exception or a mistake?

Consider this sentence for example :

In order to attract people and have them practise their English, we could point out the possibilities one obtains, by acquiring a degree in this language.

  • 1
    Even I had the same doubt. E.g., Have this patient checked vs. Have this patient check ;) In the beginning I thought it could be wrong use of grammar. Later I got to know that this usage is more in the American English. The answer I got is, "Causative use of the verb HAVE". The grammar teachers in India may not accept it at least now. In future, it may get integrated, as things have always been.
    – Ram Pillai
    Aug 12, 2020 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


The key to passive voice is that the actor is missing. Compare this active:

  • I baked the cake.

To this passive:

  • The cookies were baked.

The person who did the baking is missing!

In your example:

  • Have them practice their English.

“Them” is the object, but who is making them practice? Most likely it’s an implied “you”, but that isn’t actually stated.


You didn't quite finish your question in a couple spots, but this example is not a mere passive. Indeed it could be argued it is not a passive at all; altho that would be complex discussion.

The sentence has the implied subject (you)... thus it could read, "In order for you to attract people and..." The next phrase is a strange form of command. The word 'have' here is a kind of indirect or double command: "you" are commanded to command these people to do something. So a principal might say to a teacher, 'have your students practice their spelling today'.

So this is a rather singular example, not a standard passive by any means.

But it is made complex here by putting it in the subjunctive and taking the first command out and making it into an 'if' type condition. Thus it means, "If you wish to command your students to practice their English you need to..."

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