Literary Discourse: CAUSATIVE VERB

Many of us have come across many types of verbs throughout our studies of English from nursery to university. Among these verb types are Finite Verb, Non-finite Verb, Linking Verb, Auxiliary Verb, Transitive Verb, and Intransitive Verb. However, little do we know or hear about CAUSATIVE VERB. Ironically, almost all of us use it efficiently, especially when we try to run away from undesirable responsibilities. There is, therefore, the need to discuss the overly used but little known verb.

By the end of this discussion, fellow learners/readers should be able to maximize their understanding of the:

Definition of Causative Verb
Usage of Causative Verb
A CAUSATIVE VERB is an action verb that causes another action to happen. It is mostly employed in an attempt to avoid an undesirable responsibility. Examples are make [The President made the minister sack workers], force [Azinpaga forced Kofi to drink alcohol], compel [Intellectual jealousy and hypocrisy compelled me to leave the University College].

It is worth mentioning that causative verbs are not only meant to make people avoid taking responsibilities for undesirable happenings. Generally, they are used to indicate the sort of actions that people do not do themselves but allow, ask, or force other people to do. Examples: Permit [Rahi permitted Kataali to enter the room].  Remind [the teacher reminds the students to study hard]. Ask [Marzuq asked Marzuqah to sleep alone].  

It is significant to note that in a causative construction, the subject does not actually do the action of the OPERATIVE VERB but only causes the object to do that action. Let us restate the sentence [Marzuq asked Marzuqah to sleep alone] as an illustration. In this sentence, the subject is MARZUQ, and the object MARZUQAH. The causative verb “ask” causes MARZUQAH to do the action of the operative verb – sleeping alone.

Among the most commonly used causative verbs are “allow,” “assist,” “convince,” “employ,” “help,” “hire,” “let,” “motivate,” “remind,” “require,” and “urge.” Practically, when used in a sentence, each of these causative verbs is followed by an object (a noun or pronoun) followed by an infinitive. Examples: Allow [Akbar allowed Alhassan Rabiu to attend an NPP youth meeting in Tamale. Assist [Soft Nalung assisted Alhassan Sumani Junior to defect to NDC]. Convince [Rashid Brutus convinced Hanan-Confidence to join CPP]. Employ [The International University College of Guluma (IUCG) employs criminal deception to get accreditation].

There are exceptions to the above pattern of causative construction. Notable among them are constructions in relation to verbs such as “have,” “make,” and “let.” These are followed by a noun or pronoun functioning as an object, but which is not followed by the “to-infinitive.” Rather, the object is followed by the “base-form-infinitive.” This is the infinitive form without the “to.” Examples: Have [Azindoo had the students do the assignment yesterday]. Make [The mischief makers made Kofi drag them to court]. Let [Zangina and his lawyers will let the detractors taste the wrath of contempt of court if they continue the malicious propaganda in the course of the trial].

In conclusion, it is important to observe that past and future tenses in causative construction affect only the CAUSATIVE VERB. The OPERATIVE VERB remains in present simple even if the intended communication is to be expressed in past or future. The above examples illustrate this observation: In the first example, we have “had” as CAUSATIVE VERB and “do” as OPERATIVE VERB. In the second one, there are “made” as CAUSATIVE VERB and “drag” as OPERATIVE VERB. The third sentence contains “will let” as CAUSATIVE VERB and “taste” as OPERATIVE VERB. Fellow learner, thanks for your participation and contribution. Suggestions are always welcome to enhance the quality of this fascinating column. Topics of relative grammatical difficulties could be suggested for discussion.

Allah is the Grammarian-In-Chief!
By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Students and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM)

Email: Tell: 0244755402

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