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"He had them listen attentively." "He had them listening attentively."

Why grammatically speaking is the second one right?

Also, then, why is "I had my brother wash the car" correct but not "I had my brother washing the car." (unless we add more to it)

  • OK, but why does lightening sound better – Christine Apr 6 '18 at 1:44
  • It depends on what circumstance you're using the sentence in. – as4s4hetic Apr 6 '18 at 1:45
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    They're both valid. They mean two different things. – Hot Licks Apr 6 '18 at 2:06
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    And "I had my brother washing the car" could be valid, if it's intended to indicate the activity you had your brother engaged in at the time being discussed. – Hot Licks Apr 6 '18 at 2:07
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Grammatically, both are correct, but they mean slightly different things.

He had them listen attentively — More forceful by "him", connoting an unwillingness to listen (or desire to not listen) on the part of "them."
The guest speaker might have bored the class, but because he was covering material that would be on the next day's test, the teacher had them listen attentively for the entire presentation.

He had them listening attentively — Suggests that the listening was not forced, but rather out of interest or desire.
The professor's talk was so interesting yesterday that he had the whole class listening attentively despite the soon-to-be-due essay on their minds.

  • but is there a way to explain these differences grammatically. I know that is what they each mean because I grew up with the language, but how can I explain them with grammar. why does the changing form change the meaning in that way, and why doesn't it work the same in all situations? – Christine Apr 6 '18 at 6:02
  • Can you edit this into the original question rather than keeping it about grammaticality? – as4s4hetic Apr 6 '18 at 8:44
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    @Christine It does basically work the same in all situations. Have [sb.] [infinitive] is a collocation that means ‘make/force [sb.] to [do sth.]’, while have [sb.] [present participle] is a collocation that means ‘instil, inspire or otherwise cause [sb.] to (voluntarily) [do sth.]’. They’re fundamentally different constructions with fundamentally different meanings. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 6 '18 at 14:54

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