How Do I Teach Causative Form?

English has several words associated with causative form;

  • Make
  • Have
  • Let

Whereas Japanese only has one. The intricacies of English are like a Faberge egg, whereas Japanese is devoid of these like an ordinary ostrich egg. Teaching causative form is not easy, but it is quite possible.

For teaching “make“, the student must be removed from their comfort zone and put into a position where they will force you to do something, thus satisfying the requirement of “making” you do something.
At the beginning of class, write the word “make” on the board. Underline it once with red or black ink. Next, stand about 5 cm away from the seated student and slowly move towards them. They may try to move away, but the classrooms are only so big that they will eventually be cornered. Encourage them to use English to express their will. Once they ask you to move away from them, say “make me” and playfully take a fighting stance to let the student know that touching is acceptable. After they force you away from them, go to the board and introduce the past tense of “make” along with the sentence “You made me move away”.
This activity can be repeated by keeping the window on a cold day and the student making you close it, or by turning off the lights to the classroom and the student making you turn them on.

butlerFor teaching “have“, tell the student that you are a maid/butler, and you will clean their house. Ask them “what will you have me do, master?” Have the student respond with “I will have you _______”. Proper responses would be “cook a meal”, “chlorinate the pool”, “clean the bathroom”, “wash the sheets”, “mow the lawn”, etc.
If the student is having a difficult time coming up with ideas, suggest sentences to them in the form of “Will you have me ____?”
When finished, write the words “have” and “had” on the board next to “make” and “made”, and have the student create sentences for each.

For teaching “let“, ask the student about their childhood. Did they eat candy everyday for dinner? No? Their parents didn’t let them. Tell the student that their parents didn’t let them eat candy, and write “let” on the board and underline it with a soothing blue. The differences in the words “make”, “have”, and “let” will begin to form in the student’s mind.
Ask the student if their parents let them stay awake 24 hours, drink alcohol, enjoy the company of opposite sex friends, and choose their own clothing. Be clear about ages, otherwise the student may become confused.
Have the student practice “let” by asking questions about your boss. For a little fun, answer “no” to all of the students questions to earn some of their pity, which will make subsequent classes easier to teach.

If the student is still unclear on the differences between “make”, “have”, and “let”. Have them write 10 sentences for each to be checked at the next class. Make them type the homework, and let them submit it in an envelope.

Have a nice day.

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    4 thoughts on “How Do I Teach Causative Form?

    1. I like to start by writing “make, have, let” on the board and teaching based on how much command they use.

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