Imagine a woman writes a book and now she is talking about how she wrote it. She wants to get some feedback before she completes it, so she asks some family members to read the book and tell her their opinion. In one of her sentences she said:

"My husband is one of those whom I got to read my book."

This sentence seemed ok to me at first, but then I thought it might be ambiguous because of the structure "......got to read my book", because the structure "...got to do..." has a meaning like "to have an opportunity to do something.",

So, in that case, the sentence above might also mean "I had the opportunity to read my book to my husband", which is not what I wanted. But, still, as I am not a native speaker, I can't be sure, so I wanted to ask:

Does the structure "...got to do..." in the above sentence make the sentence ambiguous or not?

  • "My husband is one of the people that I got…”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 4 at 9:28
  • 1
    No, it's not ambiguous. "Get" is used here as a verb of causation. Note that "get" could be replaced by "forced" or "compelled".
    – BillJ
    Mar 4 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


This is a different meaning of "got". It can be used to form a causative sense.

I got my husband to read my book.

This is a transitive use of the verb and it means that I made my husband read my book, or he read my book for my benefit.

This is different from

I got to read my book.

This catenative construction means "I had the opportunity to read my book".

The confusion in your example is that the required object "my husband" has been removed from the subordinate clause, and so the construction appears to be the catentative "I got to read". Normally this doesn't form any problems

an apple which I ate

This doesn't present any difficulty, we understand that the verb "ate" is acting transitively on the implied object "an apple"

It is the same in this example

a person whom I got to read my book

Again we need to understand that "got" is transitive with the object implied object "a person" and isn't catenative. But the construction may lead you to think, on first reading that the catenative sens of got is being used, as "a person I got to read my book to" is the catenative. You can't know what the meaning of "got" is until you reach then end of the sentence.

This is called a "garden path sentence" as you might only realise that the object "a person" is the implied object of "got" when you reach the end of the sentence. You might misunderstand this sentence, but it isn't ambiguous. Garden path sentences should be avoided in clear writing.

  • So, the sentence is ok in its current form and It doesn't seem ambigous, does it?
    – yunus
    Mar 4 at 8:43
  • I see the issue, I've extended the answer.
    – James K
    Mar 4 at 8:55
  • Thanks James. That was exactly what I wanted to find out. Now, it is very well explained.
    – yunus
    Mar 4 at 9:23

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