I've had three family members recover.


I've had three family members recovered.

What's the difference between them (if these both are correct!).

  • 5
    Were they ill or were they lost at sea?
    – Hot Licks
    May 14, 2020 at 20:19
  • Does that matter? Well take both the aspects then!
    – Harshit
    May 14, 2020 at 20:47
  • 5
    Context is important here
    – Naomi
    May 14, 2020 at 20:59
  • Context always matters May 15, 2020 at 14:51
  • Does this answer your question? Should "Have your peer partner send you her plans" be considered a directive? John Lawler's answer shows the difference between the merely transpirational ('This happened to me') sense: (I had a bird fly in through the open window) and the causative sense (I had a man fly across to fix my broken window). May 15, 2020 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


Both the OP's sentences make syntactical and grammatical sense, but the meanings are different. This is because the meaning of "recover" depends on whether it's being used as a transitive or intransitive verb. (See definitions and plenty of examples of both in the Cambridge Dictionary)

As an intransitive verb, "recover" means to become well (He recovered from an illness.), or to return from a negative state to a previous, more positive state (The economy recovered from its decline.) This is how the word is used in the first sentence cited by the OP in the question. The family members themselves recovered from something.

As a transitive verb, "recover", used with an object, means to get back something one has lost (We recovered the valuables, or After the surprise, he recovered his wits.). This is how the word is used in the OP's second sentence. The family members were recovered by someone else or by other people.

So, both constructions can be correct in an appropriate context, but they mean different things.

  • I took the liberty of editing your answer so the second use of the verb is transitive. (You had accidentally claimed that both were intransitive.) May 15, 2020 at 14:00
  • There remains the analysis of the different senses of 'I've had'. May 15, 2020 at 16:12
  • Thanks, @JasonBassford. Stilly mistake of mine. Appreciate it. May 15, 2020 at 16:47

'recover' has (at least) two similar but distinct meanings.

One is as an intransitive verb meaning 'to return to a normal condition from a bad one'.

I've had three family members recover (from an illness).

The other is as a transitive verb meaning 'to receive back, to find something lost'. in the following it is used passively:

I've had three family members recovered (from the detention center).

So both your examples are correct but for slightly different contexts.


Given your examples, I would interpret recover as related to a condition - illness, fatigue, etc. recovered would be construed as found.

You could probably remove 'have had' as this feels like repetition/tautology.

A simple fix, to help to clarify, would be to add relevant tense and noun:

I have three family members that recovered from cancer.

I have three family members that were recovered from the fire. -- they simply were recovered

I had three family members recovered from the fire. -- you initiated their recovery

  • 1
    This answer doesn't clarify things at all.
    – Hot Licks
    May 14, 2020 at 21:11
  • 2
    It's all about the context. However, looking forward to your contribution in an answer to clarify.
    – Samuel G
    May 14, 2020 at 21:41
  • 2
    Considering the lack of context in the question, I'd say this clears things up. May 15, 2020 at 1:56

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