Make something done, Have something done... ?

alexandra-paris

Senior Member
français-France
Hello everyone, I would have a question for the native English speakers regarding a grammatical structure. I wrote this sentence in an essay (the context is : the path leading to the american revolution, about the colonists' rights) : "The impossibility to make their rights acknowledged was the ultimate step before the Revolution." I think this is odd because we usually use "make" with "someone" and not a thing ("make someone do something") but at the same time "The impossibility to have their rights acknowledged" seem to be less meaningful or am I wrong ? How would you understand this sentence and what would you recommend writing it in a proper English please ? Thank you very much in advance for your correction,

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  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Your understanding of "make" is right. You need to use make in this sort of context with an active object - as you say, make someone do something (it could also be make something do something). Here you are using a passive structure - the rights need to be acknowledged. In that sense you need to use "have". So, you have correctly identified the fault in your sentence, and have also identified the correction to be made. All you need now is to understand that "to have their rights acknowledged" does carry exactly the meaning that you intended. :thumbsup:
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    "To have their rights acknowledged" is the correct form. If you feel this isn't forceful enough, you might say "To ensure that their rights were acknowledged".

    The version with "make" doesn't work.

    [Cross-posted.]
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Moderator note

    Deleted posts were picking up a valid point about the original sentence which contains an error of normal usage, but which is completely unrelated to the thread topic. If anybody has an uncertainty about "The impossibility to have their rights acknowledged was the ultimate step before the Revolution." they are welcome to start a new thread as long as it has a specific question.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    Hi,

    Could we also use the verb "get" and say the following?
    "The impossibility to get their rights acknowledged was the ultimate step before the Revolution."

    And to my non-native ears it fits better than the sentence with "have", because "get" suggest seeking, effort, whereas "have" sounds neutral.
     
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