have the windows blown.

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Please explain the structure "have the windows blown". Does "have" mean "possess" or anything else? I am confused :confused:

"All the shops had their windows blown out by the the gas explosion."

Thanks.
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    No, it doesn't mean "to possess."

    "All the shops had their windows blown out" means "The windows of all the shops were blown out."

    Other examples:

    I had my questions answered by experts in the field.
    I had my car stolen last month.

    Clearer?
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    I am confused because i think this structure is used when I ask someone to do something. But I cannot ask the explosion to blow the window. It's strange because it is that.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I think I understand your confusion, but I think this is the way the passive is normally used for something like shop windows. I suppose you could say they got their windows blown out, but got is a far less formal-sounding word.
     

    nycphotography

    Senior Member
    American English
    mimi2 said:
    Please explain the structure "have the windows blown". Does "have" mean "possess" or anything else? I am confused :confused:

    "All the shops had their windows blown out by the the gas explosion."

    Thanks.

    I would say this is "to have" used as a modal with "to blow out" to make the past perfect tense, in the passive voice.

    The gas explosion had blown out all the shops' windows. <== the same sentence with the active voice, a single (modal?) verb tense.

    Interestingly, once you switch to the active voice, it becomes clear that a better way to word it is with the simple past:

    The gas explosion blew out all the shops' windows.

    This is an interesting exercise because it shows how we can take a very simple statement, and work it into an incredibly complex, convoluted sentence with says effectively the same thing. And we do it all the time. I'm not entirely sure why, although it may be in an effort to sound better educated in our writing. I personally prefer simple direct statements in my non-fiction. ;)
     

    Pimothy

    Member
    English + Dutch, UK
    I think I understand the confusion a bit. To have does mean to possess sometimes, for example "I have a car" -> I own/possess a car.
    The thing is though that to have in its various forms has many different ways in which it can be used. And often they are have no definition. It is one of those situations where you can't literally translate word for word, i'm afraid.

    :warning: Sorry but I have to do this, I can't help myself:
    "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Going back to your earlier point, Mimi, I understand your confusion.

    "To have someone do something" can indeed mean "to arrange for someone to do something (whether or not you ask him)."

    In fact, my sample sentence "I had my car stolen last month" is actually ambiguous. It could theoretically mean that I arranged for my car to be stolen. We'd need more context to determine what is meant (even though this second meaning is highly unlikely!).

    However, it doesn't always mean this. As you said, obviously a shop can't arrange for its windows to be blown out. That's why in this case it just means that this is what happened to the windows.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    elroy said:
    [...] ... obviously a shop can't arrange for its windows to be blown out. [...]
    Such services could certainly be arranged in most parts of the world, in order to defraud the insurance company or other compensation authority, but that is of course illegal.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    panjandrum said:
    Such services could certainly be arranged in most parts of the world, in order to defraud the insurance company or other compensation authority, but that is of course illegal.

    Oops - yet again you've managed to point out an ambiguity overlooked by me. :)

    By "shop" I meant the actual physical building or establishment, not the owners thereof. ;) (This, I think, is why Mimi was confused.)
     
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