You made me do it: Causative Verb Patterns!

To describe this picture, I could say:

Police officer on motorcycle

The police officer saw me go through a stop sign.

He had me pull over.

He made me show him my license.

I let him look at it.

What’s unusual about these sentences is that they follow an SVOV pattern (Subject + Verb + Object + Verb) instead of a simple SVO (Subject + Verb + Object) pattern. This pattern can also be called a “Causative Verb Pattern” because the subject causes the object to do something.

When we use an SVOV pattern, the final verb can be in one of two forms. In the above examples, the final verb was in the simple form (V1). It can also be in the infinitive form (to + V).

He asked me to show him my registration.

He wanted me to prove that the car was mine.

To make a negative, we put not in front of V1 or in front of to + V

I got him not to write me a ticket.

He told me not to be so careless in the future.

Here is a list of common verbs that can be used in an SVOV pattern.

SVO (V1) SVO (to V)
let (someone) (do something)






help (* on both lists)

get (someone) to (do something)








Let’s look at some more examples:

Dog balancing treats on is nose

This dog’s owner got him to balance dog treats on his nose.

The owner made him practice many times.

The dog’s owner told him to “stay!”

The owner had him pose for this picture.

The owner let him eat some of the treats after he finished.

The dog wanted his owner to stop this silly game.

See more examples and information on our recent post: More Practice with “MAKE” as a Causative Verb

Practice: Below are some subject/object pairs. Practice writing some SVOV sentences for them. Don’t forget to practice the negatives. The first example is done for you.  Possible answers are at the bottom of this post.

  • (older brother / younger brother)
    • My older brother got me to lie to our parents about where he had been last night.
  • (wife / husband)
    • _______________________________________________
  • (child / parent)
    •  _______________________________________________
  • (dog / owner)
    • _______________________________________________
  • (teacher / student)
    • _______________________________________________



Possible Answers

  • (wife / husband)
    • The wife told her husband to cook dinner.
  • (child / parent)
    • The child wouldn’t let his mother put on his shoes.
  • (dog / owner)
    • The dog heard his owner say “Come!”
  • (teacher / student)
    • The teacher told her students not to cheat.