I have come across these two sentences:

We had the game controlled. We didn't have the mental energy to finish these games.

Is in the first sentence used the construction have something done? If so, I don´t understand. I thought that by means of this construction „we describe situations where we want someone else to do something for us“. I would understand „We controlled the game“ or „We had controlled the game“.

  • A little more context would help. To me it seems possible that either they had someone else have the game under control, so they didn't bother to try finishing it, because they know they are loosing. Or they had the game under control and did not want to finish, because there was no possibility of loosing any more. – skymningen May 8 '14 at 15:04
  • Carlo Ancelotti: We had the game controlled. We didn't have the mental energy to finish these games. There were mistakes in these last two games. Ancelotti´s statement is reffering to the last two matches of Real Madrid in which Real was in all aspects better (and controlled the game) than its rival although both matches ended in a draw. – bart-leby May 8 '14 at 15:15

This is not a causative, but a different meaning of the HAVE x VERBen construction.

Here the past participle is deployed as an adjective. The expression HAVE x ADJECTIVE means to “have x in an ADJECTIVE state”, as in

We have the voters happy, now; let's call an election!
Once we have the elevator working we can bring the piano up.
Now that we have the report finished we can move on to the next project.

Thus, We had the game controlled means We had the game under control—we were in position to win the game with ordinary effort.

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'We had the game controlled.'

Colloquial use, here meaning, 'we had the game under control'.

Translating the whole into better english, in context.

'We had the game under control but didn't have the mental energy to secure the victory'

Note, in the original, finish is used as in 'to finish an opponent off', not merely to end.

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The word had is interesting. Both:

We controlled the game.


We had controlled the game.

are both past tense. Had can prepare the reader for an alternative outcome:

We controlled the game and later secured a victory.


We had controlled the game until our player was injured.


*We had controlled the game; however victory escaped us.

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