Understanding Grammar: Getting Something Done
In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, Jack discovers that Rich is really lazy and that he will always try to get other people to do things for him rather than do the thing himself. The language focus is on the causative form which is the structure we use when we talk about something that someone else did for us (get/have something done). Your task is to tell us about a few things that you have done because you can't (or won't) do them yourself. Don't forget to listen until the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Understanding Grammar: Getting something done
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.
Rich: This week’s podcast focuses on grammar and you’re going to learn how to speak about things we arrange for other people to do for us.
Jack: I had my hair done yesterday.
Rich: Oh yes, very nice. It looks the same as before.
Jack: I’m not talking about my hair, I’m talking about the sentence. I had my hair done.
Rich: Ah, yes. Exactly. In this sentence, someone did or cut Jack’s hair. He didn’t do it himself. He got someone else to do it for him.
Jack: We’re going to look at sentences like this and others in this week’s podcast. We’re also going to find out how lazy Rich really is in a series of little dialogues. The answer won’t be a surprise: he’s very lazy.
Rich: I’m not lazy; just busy. Anyway, more of that later, first, we need to look at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Jack: Last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now. We’ll give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Rich: Last week, I gave you a football phrase that was quite difficult and we didn’t get that many right answers.
Jack: But a big well done to Luibomyr from Ukraine who has a 99.99% record with our football phrases, Lakerwang from China and Elghoul from Algeria who did get the right answer.
Rich: And thanks to wsanta from Argentina, Elghoul from Algeria and Bakursait from Saudi Arabia who completed last week’s task in the comments section. All three of them have invited all of you to different events in their countries.
Jack: Let them know in the comments section on the website if you can accept their invitations or not and use some of the language you learned in the last podcast.
Rich: Back to last week’s football phrase. Let’s hear it one more time. Do you know what the missing phrase is?
Jack: The phrase is to be ****** ** ** ***'* ****. This phrase is used to describe a goalkeeper who has come to collect the ball from a cross or a long pass and gets nowhere near the ball. An attacker can easily put the ball in the net either through chipping it over the goalkeeper or heading the cross into the net. The goalkeeper always has a decision to make: to stay on the line or come out for the ball, if a keeper decides to come for the ball they have to be decisive and not get ****** ** ** ***'* ****.
Rich: It was difficult, wasn’t it. We’ll give you the answer at the end of the show and we’ll have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Introduction to roleplay
Jack: This week, you’re going to hear five mini-roleplays or dialogues. In each roleplay, you’ll hear Rich talking about things that he needs to do in his house, free-time, and life in general.
Rich: While you are listening to each roleplay, we have a little task for you to do.
Jack: Who is going to do the action in each roleplay: Rich or someone else?
Jack: Roleplay 1 - Who is going to cut Rich’s hair?
Jack: Like I was saying, in interviews, it’s not always about what you say but how you say it.
Rich: You’re right. It’s important to be confident and say things like I mean them. Any other tips?
Jack: Mmm … not sure how to say this but you should probably do something with your hair. I don’t think dyed red hair is very professional.
Rich: Really, but it’s Liverpool red! Alright, I’ll get it cut this afternoon. Short back and sides, it’ll look really smart and brown.
Jack: Roleplay 2 - Who is going to fix Rich’s car?
Jack: We have to get the bus? Why do we have to get the bus?
Rich: I’ve got a flat tyre. I’ll have the mechanic take a look at it tomorrow. He hasn’t got time today.
Jack: A flat tyre? A mechanic? You don’t need to have a flat tyre fixed by a mechanic.
Rich: I do. I haven’t got a clue. I could get him to wash the windscreen at the same time - there hasn’t been any water in the spray thingy for years.
Jack: Oh Rich! You’re just lazy. Listen, I’ll get the bus to yours and we’ll do it together.
Rich: OK ... I’ll put the kettle on.
Jack: Roleplay 3 - Who is going to paint Rich’s house?
Jack: This room could do with a lick of paint, Rich.
Rich: Yeah, I know. I just haven’t got time to do it.
Jack: You could do it while you’re watching the match on Sunday afternoon.
Rich: I could but that’s my time. You’re right though, I need to get the whole house painted not just in here. Do you know anyone?
Jack: Yeah, probably. I’ll send you a number of the painter who did my grandma’s house.
Jack: Roleplay 4 - Who is going to mark the essays?
Jack: Are you ever going to get those essays marked?
Rich: What essays?
Jack: The ones that your 30 students gave you two weeks ago.
Rich: Nah! I’m going to get the students to mark each other’s.
Jack: That is so lazy.
Rich: No, it’s not. It’s efficient.
Jack: Roleplay 5 - Who is going to cut down the tree?
Jack: Rich! That tree in your driveway is really dangerous. It looks like it’s about to fall down.
Rich: Is it? It must have been damaged a bit in the winds last week.
Jack: It’s been like that for months. Damaged a bit? Come and have a look.
Rich: Oh yeah, it could hurt someone that, or damage my car. And I’ve just had it washed! I got the kids to do it.
Jack: Well, the kids can’t do the tree. Have you got a saw?
Rich: Oh yes... I’ll just go and grab it from my workshop. Look at me, Jack. Do I look like the sort of person who owns a saw?
Jack: Well, call a tree surgeon and have the tree chopped down safely.
Rich: I suppose I could call them tomorrow.
[crashing noise followed by car alarm]
Jack: I don’t think you need to bother. It’s just fallen on your car.
Rich: Oh sh ...
Language Focus: Answers
Jack: At the beginning of each roleplay, we asked you a question. Did you get the answers? Let’s have a look, so who is going to cut Rich’s hair?
Rich: The hairdresser.
Jack: Who is going to fix Rich’s car?
Rich: I wanted the mechanic to do it but you said we’d do it together so probably just you.
Jack: Who is going to paint Rich’s house?
Rich: You’ve got a contact for me. Great.
Jack: Who is going to mark your essays?
Rich: Err … that would be my students.
Jack: And who is going to cut down the tree in your garden?
Rich: Well, it came down on its own, didn’t it.
Jack: Serves you right for being so lazy!
Rich: Now we want to focus on some of the language we used in the dialogues. In the roleplays, we used phrases like ‘I’ll get my hair cut this afternoon’ and ‘I need to have the whole house painted’.
Jack: We use these types of structures ‘get my hair cut’ and ‘have the house painted’ when we are talking about arranging for something to be done by someone else.
Rich: I don’t cut my own hair and I’m too lazy to paint my own house.
Jack: These sentences are similar to passive sentences and have a passive meaning but unlike passive structures, they don’t use the verb ‘to be’. They use the verbs ‘get’ and ‘have’.
Rich: We can either have something done or get something done. Get is more informal than have and used more often when we are speaking. To create these sentences we use have or get plus the object plus the past participle.
Jack: We get our hair cut or we have our house painted.
Rich: So we use a phrase that’s similar to a passive. But we don’t usually say ‘My hair was cut’ or ‘my hair was cut by the hairdresser’. My hair shouldn’t be the subject of the sentence, I should be the subject because it’s me or rather my hair that the action is happening to. I’m important.
Jack: So we say: ‘I had my house painted’ or ‘I’m getting my house painted’.
Jack: There are two similar structures we used in the roleplays that you can also use to talk about arranging someone to do something for you.
Rich: In the roleplays, we used sentences like 'I’ll have the mechanic take a look at it tomorrow' and ‘I’m going to get the students to mark each other’s essays’.
Jack: These sentences are very similar to what we’ve just been talking about but this time we talk about who does the action.
Rich: We could say ‘I had my car looked at’ which is what we were looking at before but here we say ‘I had the mechanic look at my car’.
Jack: We have someone do something. We use have + person + infinitive.
Rich: We use get in a similar way but with get we use to. We get someone to do something. We use get + person + to + infinitive.
Jack: Before we were looking at sentences like ‘I got the car washed’ but here we are emphasizing who did the washing and we say ‘I got the kids to wash my car’.
Rich: We’ve got more examples and activities on the website so you can practise the language we’ve been looking at in this podcast.
Jack: Your task this week is to tell us a few things that you have had done to your house, garden, something you own like a car or even your own body.
Rich: You might have had some building work done in your house or changes made to your garden.
Jack: You might have had lots of changes made to a car, bike or computer you own.
Rich: You might have got a new haircut recently, do you get your shopping delivered, do you ever get your photos printed? Tell us about the experience.
Jack: Tell us about three things you have arranged to have done for you. Who do you get to look at your car or bike, house or garden or computer when something needs fixing?
Rich: Write all your answers in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website. You’ll find the page for this podcast on the homepage or under skills>listen>podcasts>understanding grammar: having something done.
Jack: OK, it’s time for this week’s football phrase.
Rich: Can you make it a bit easier this week? I think it was a bit too difficult last week.
Jack: Of course, you’re not the only one who can be lazy sometimes! This week’s football phrase is **** ****. This phrase is the idea of following the rules and respecting the opposition. Nobody should cheat or try to trick the referee. It’s the referee’s job to ensure **** **** on the pitch.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Jack: Before we forget, if you’re still thinking about last week’s difficult football phrase - the answer was to be caught in no man’s land.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases connected to fear. Do you know the words in bold?
I don’t think dyed red hair is very professional.
You don’t need to have a flat tyre fixed by a mechanic.
This room could do with a lick of paint, Rich.
No, it’s not being lazy. It’s being efficient.
That tree in your driveway is really dangerous.
Do I look like the sort of person who owns a saw?
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words.
The Causative (have/get something done)
In the podcast, you heard five dialogues. In the dialogues, Rich spoke about things that other people were doing for him. We use a specific structure to do this. It's called the causative but more often we talk about the structure have or get something done.
Here are some examples from the podcast:
Alright, I’ll get it cut this afternoon. Short back and sides, it’ll look really smart and brown.
You don’t need to have a flat tyre fixed by a mechanic.
I need to get the whole house painted not just in here.
Oh yeah, it could hurt someone that, or damage my car. And I’ve just had it washed!
have/get + object + past participle
The causative can be used in any tense or verb form. The only part of the structure that changes is the verb to have (or get):
I've just had it washed.
You don't need to have a flat tyre fixed.
Ae you getting those photos printed soon?
I got my nails done yesterday.
We didn't only use the causative in the dialogues to talk about getting other people to do something for you. Look at these examples from the podcast:
I’ll have the mechanic take a look at it tomorrow.
I could get him to wash the windscreen at the same time.
I’m going to get the students to mark each other’s essays.
I’ve just had the car washed! I got the kids to do it.
In these examples, we focus more on the person who did the action for you. There are two structures to look at here:
- We can have someone do something for us. We use have + the person + the infinitive.
- We can get someone to do something for us. We use get + the person + to + the infinitive.
Read the four example sentences from the podcast and check that you understand this structure.
Now in this activity, take a look at the sentences and decide which word to use in each gap.
What have you had done?
Your task this week is to tell us a few things that you have had done to your house, garden, something you own like a car or even your own body.
Here some questions to help you:
- Have you had some building work done in your house or changes made to your garden?
- Have you ever had some work done to a car, bike or computer you own?
- Have you had your hair cut recently? Do you get your shopping delivered? Do you ever get your photos printed?
- Tell us about three things you have arranged to have done for you.
Try to use the causative form in your answers (have/get + object + past participle) or the other forms we looked at in the podcast: (have + person + infinitive) or (get + person + to + infinitive).
Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!