Archive for April 18, 2010

the difference between words: make, let and have

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Today I’d like to go over the difference between to “make” someone do something, to “let” someone do something and to “have” someone do something. In English, to “make” someone do something means to force someone to do an action that they really don’t want to do. For example:

When I was young, my parents made me clean my room.

I don’t want to work this weekend, but my boss is making me.

My teacher made me do extra homework because I was late for class.

To “let” someone do something means to allow someone to do something that they want to do. For example:

I let my son go camping with his friends last weekend.

My boss let me go home early yesterday because I was sick.

My teacher let me hand in my essay a day late.

To “have” someone do something means to arrange for someone to do something. It is used when the lower level person CANNOT say no because they work for the higher level person. It can also be used when the request is so simple that nobody would say no. For example:

I’ll have my secretary type up this report, and then I’ll send it to you.

I’ll have Mr. Smith call you back as soon as he can.

A: We don’t have any wine.

B: It’s ok. I’ll call my husband on his cell phone and have him buy some wine before he comes home.

In each of these cases, the person willingly complies with the request to type up the report, to call the other person back, or to buy some wine so we use “have” instead of “make”. Please note that with all of these cases we do NOT use the preposition “to”. Therefore it is WRONG to say:

When I was young, my parents made me to clean my room.

My boss let me to go home early yesterday because I was sick.

I’ll have my secretary to type up this report, and then I’ll send it to you.

I hope this is clear to everyone.

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