recently a visitor at work forgot his mobile charger at my desk. He wrote me an email asking if it's still there.

For some mysterious reason I answered: "Yes, indeed. I can have it mailed to you if you wish." I tried to express that I can ask someone (the receptionist) to do so.

Meanwhile I am quite unsure if "I can have it mailed" is any form of understandable English at all :))).

Is this a correct, common phrase?

Cheers, Alex

  • 3
    It's perfectly understandable and proper, but I'm too lazy to look up the grammatical justification.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 10, 2010 at 23:12
  • Nit: I find it perfectly comprehensible, but as a matter of utter pedantry you have only told them what you are able to do, not whether you are willing to or not. "I will have it mailed to you" is less ambiguous in this specific sense. The fact that you bothered to reply to their email does imply a degree of willingness on your part to help them, so I think they will understand that you intend to send it, assuming that you are not a sociopath.
    – AdamV
    May 7, 2014 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


The usage is correct, but it's unclear which part you are calling into question.

At the top-level we are using the word "can" (which is a modal verb, aka modal auxiliary) in a typical fashion: "I am eating cake" -> "I can eat cake" is analogous to "I am having it mailed to you" -> "I can have it mailed to you."

Within the sentence "I am having it mailed to you" there is a structure whose name I don't know. Compare with "I am letting him speak to you" and "I am watching you speak to her."

EDIT: The sentence "I am having it mailed to you" gets its structure from the fact that "have" is a causative verb. It would seem that "let" is a causative verb but "watch" is not. I am trying to see what we might call "watch" in the above context.

EDIT 2: The verb "watch" is a verb of perception.


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