There is an English textbook newly released in some bookstores. This book says "having his helmet break into pieces"

having his helmet break into pieces VS having his helmet broken into pieces

Which phrase above is correct? Please give me the answer to the question. Thank you.

  • 3
    The text has a complete sentence, doesn't it? So why ask about a fragment? – Lambie May 18 '18 at 12:57
  • In many contexts the (unmarked infinitive) form break would be interchangeable with (adjectival) past participle broken. But I probably wouldn't use p.p. in, say, Having my car break down last week was very inconvenient for me. – FumbleFingers May 18 '18 at 13:23
  • My instinctive understanding would be that 'having his helmet break...' means 'experiencing the breakage of his helmet', while 'having his helmet broken...' would be used if someone, or some accident, is referred to as causing the breakage. But without knowing the rest of the sentence it's hard to be sure. – Kate Bunting May 19 '18 at 7:43

I would say that it's a typo and the correct one is "having his helmet broken into pieces." My understanding is that it's a participle clause (having + past participle) and the author, by using it, wishes to emphasize that one action was before another one. Like, for instance:

Having his helmet broken into pieces, he had no choice but to surrender.

That is, first his helmet broke into pieces, then he surrendered.

You may want to take a look at this page from British Council for more information.

  • I don't think you can say for sure given the sentence fragment rather than the complete sentence. He was unfortunate, having his helmet break in to pieces just before he hit the ground at speed. – Pam May 18 '18 at 14:27

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