First sentence doesn't have "make" or "get". Still is it causative? What is the differences between these sentences and which one is truer?

  • He tried to scare them.
  • He tried to make them scared.
  • 1
    The most commonly listed "causitive verbs" seem to be Let, Make, Have, Get, Help. But it seems pretty obvious to me that even if you let someone do something, they might not do it, which is no different to saying that even if you try to do something, you might not succeed. In both cases, whatever the associated action is might not be done, so I think from any rational perspective, you should classify try with those other verbs (for whatever use the category is). Any semantic difference between your examples is subtle to non-existent. Mar 5, 2021 at 15:10
  • I'm afraid that nobody here can tell you if the sentences are true or not. We don't know if he actually tried to scare them or not. Mar 5, 2021 at 18:57
  • I didn't understand you @FeliniusRex. I've asked for grammatical structure.
    – user123960
    Mar 5, 2021 at 19:12
  • 1
    You asked "which one is truer"? The sentence is true or false if what it says is true or false. Mar 5, 2021 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


The infinitive "to scare them" is the complement of the catenative verb "try".

Causative verbs like "make", are generally followed by an object, and a bare infinitive

try to scare them

make him scare them

There are many other catenative verbs: ask, keep, promise, help, want. Catenative verbs can form chains: "He tried to ask to help the woman." (although longer chain get confusing)

Catenative verbs are not usually considered to be caustative verbs.

  • 1
    "He tried to ask to help the woman." is a very awkward sentence, certainly in my dialect of British English. "Ask to help" is a possible construction, but saying "I asked to help her" is rather odd, even if its meaning "I asked for permission to give her help" is tolerably clear. Can you use another example? Mar 6, 2021 at 1:09
  • Thanks for answer. Are my sentences have same or different mean?
    – user123960
    Mar 6, 2021 at 6:39

Others have replied on the assumption that you are asking about try. I think you are asking about scare.

Yes, scare could be regarded as a causative verb, and has the same meaning as make (someone) scared.

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