1

Today I come across this sentence:

I recommend having customer service agents end their emails a variety of ways.

  1. Can you explain why to is not added before end?

  2. Why is having used before an Object?

It seems to me it should be like this:

I recommend Customer service agents having to stop it.

thank you

  • Doesn't anyone here know that email is a collective noun, uncountable? The singular of "email" is email message. The plural is email messages. just as the singular of mail is letter or package. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 11 '15 at 13:56
  • @BrianHitchcock that's one way to look at it, however, usage tells a different story. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 11 '15 at 18:18
  • Yes, and usage will also show that thousands of people use "login" as a verb. But try to conjugate it without taking it apart. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 13 '15 at 11:42
  • @BrianHitchcock To login, he logins, he loginned, he has loginned. Easy as pie, obviously. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 17 '15 at 8:47
6

You are confusing two very different English idioms using HAVE + VERBinfinitive

  • In the construction with the marked infinitive (to VERB), HAVE has a modal sense, approximately equivalent to must.

    My car has to be fixed. = My car must be fixed.
    Don has to fix my car. = Don must fix my car.
    My car has to be fixed. = My car must be fixed.
    Customer service agents have to end their emails this way. = Customer service agents must end their emails this way.
    Emails have to be ended this way. = Emails must be ended this way.

    Note that English idiom doesn't much like using propositions like this as complements of recommend.

    ? I recommend that customer service agents have to end their emails this way. okI recommend that customer service agents be required to end their emails this way.

  • In the construction with the unmarked infinitive and an intervening subject, HAVE has a causative sense, equivalent to something in the range compel–cause–make arrangements for.

    I will have Don fix my car. = I will pay Don to fix my car.
    I will have customer service agents end their emails this way. = I will institute a new policy calling for customer service agents to end their emails this way.

    In uses of this idiom where VERB is cast in the passive (be VERBen), the be is deleted, leaving HAVE ... VERBen

    I will have my car be fixed. = I will cause my car to be fixed.
    I will have emails be ended this way. = I will institute a new policy calling for emails to be ended this way.


A word in capitalized italics (like this: WORD) means all inflections of the word; if the word is a verb, this includes grammaticalized constructions in which the word acts as the lexical verb. So HAVE = {have, has, had, having, is having, has had, am had, are had ...} and so forth.

The -en suffix, borrowed from strong-verb forms like broken, given, designates the past/passive participle form of the verb, distinguished from the past form designated with -ed.

4

The bare infinitive is used because the construction used is: have [someone] do [something]. This is a special use of the verb have, which means something like "order or cause someone to do something".

She had me copy the documents.

They had her remove the lens cap.

The verb recommend can be constructed with a noun as an object:

I recommend surrender.

They recommended expansion.

In this case, a gerund is used instead of a noun: having... A gerund is a word on -ing that functions like a noun externally (it can be object or subject or whatever), but internally in functions like a verb (it can have its own object etc.).

I recommend leaving the city.

She recommended having a baby.

I recommend having them end their e-mails with "poopie pants".

  • +1 Interesting: you and I noted two entirely different causes of confusion. – StoneyB Jul 11 '15 at 14:06
  • @StoneyB: I'm not quite sure we analyses the issue so very differently! – Cerberus Jul 17 '15 at 15:05
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Thank you. Your judgement as a linguist means a lot to me. – Cerberus Jul 17 '15 at 15:06
1
  1. Sometimes, the infinitive is 'to-less', meaning the 'to' is omitted. This is usual when the infinitive is used as an object complement to the previous verb. "Let's go to the mall and shop." In this sentence 'to the mall' is an adverbial prepositional phrase answering where to go, but 'shop' is a to-less infinitive. It's similar to how one would say, "Let's go shop!" 'go' is the verb and shop is the to-less infinitive. It's not the same as "Let's go AND shop!" Here, shop would be the second action verb: going and shopping. "Let's go shop" means 'let's go and do some shopping.' Pretty much, it's sort of a convenience to drop the 'to' from the infinitive sometimes, but not always.

  2. 'agents' is the object to 'having'. (having what? having agents ...) (having agents do/be what? having agents (to) end their emails ...)

  3. The sentence is missing an adverbial preposition: 'in' before 'a variety of ways'. (end their emails how?) (in a variety of ways).

Correction: "I recommend having customer service agents end their emails in a variety of ways." It's still a bit stiff, even for the way that I speak and write.

I prefer: "I recommend that customer service agents should end their emails in a variety of ways." (A recommendations is a suggestion for what someone thinks should happen, etc.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.