I just read a piece of news about the use of fireworks to celebrate Easter in Greece, and found a sentence as follows:

"A sixty-eight year old dealer had his warehouse raided this week and the police confiscated nearly a million and a quarter bangers, rockets, and firecrackers."

My question is that this sentence uses the structure called: "have something done" = have + something+ participle verb. This sentence usually means that a person needs to do something but that thing is done by someone else, e.g. "I just had my hair cut today" means I needed to have a hair cut and someone did it for me, not, I did it myself.

In this case, the police raided the warehouse of the dealer when he did not ask for it at all. Why was this structure used in this sentence? It's supposed to go like this: 'The police raided the warehouse of a dealer and confiscated...' isn't it?

  • 2
    I had my wallet stolen by a pickpocket doesn't imply I went and found that pickpocket because I needed to be a victim! It's only sometimes that HAVE + [object] + [Past Participle] implies "arranging" for someone to do something (on your behalf). Jul 19 at 16:42
  • This isn't your question Muhammad. It's copied word-for-word from a BBC article, where the question is very well answered. Don't waste our time.
    – gotube
    Jul 20 at 1:53

The sentence is grammatical, but, as you point out, it does not literally make sense.

This is the causative use of "have."

A has B do X

This means that A did something so that B did X. It is indeed active.

A has X done

This means that A did something so that someone unspecified did X. It is indeed passive.

Perfectly grammatical forms. Unfortunately, it is perfectly possible to speak nonsense grammatically.

A dealer had his warehouse raided ... and the police confiscated

is grammatical, but makes no apparent sense. The dealer did not intentionally arrange for the police to raid his own warehouse. You are perfectly correct that what was meant was

The police raided a dealer's warehouse and confiscated

People scramble their meaning all the time, and others often unscramble it without conscious thought. I am sure that you can think of examples from your own life in your native language. But such syntactically valid but logically invalid utterances must be utterly confusing to a learner.

Great question.

  • Do you mean it makes no sense at all, like you can't understand it, or it would make no sense if "causitive simple past" is the only function you know for this structure? The sentence makes perfect sense to me, but I can't name the grammar. It's like, "I just had my car stolen", which is arguaby the most natural way to express that, at least in Canada
    – gotube
    Jul 20 at 1:47
  • I mean that if you understand “causative” have, “I just had my car stolen” makes LITERAL sense only if you were trying to commit insurance fraud. The correct way to say it outside of Canada is “My car was just stolen.” I shall take your word for it that the passive is unknown in Canadian English. : ). Jul 20 at 2:22
  • The BBC and I disagree with you that causitive is the only possible function of ["had" + <object> + <past participle>]. See the link in my comment on the OP
    – gotube
    Jul 20 at 2:32

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