What grammar structure is this?

  1. Bob got/had me drunk.
  2. She's got me spending.
  3. Get moving!
  4. Get going!
  5. That music gets/has me dancing!
  6. He had/got me stumped.
  7. She had/got me stoned.

Is it possible to say: She has/had me spending?


3 Answers 3


Got can be used as an auxiliary verb meaning

reach or cause to reach a specified state or condition

  • [with object and complement]: I need to get my hair cut

  • [as auxiliary verb] used with past participle to form the passive mood: the cat got drowned

  • [with object and past participle] cause to be treated in a specified way: get the form signed by a doctor [got met drunk; [has] got me stumped; got me stoned]

  • [with object and infinitive] induce or prevail upon (someone) to do something: they got her to sign the consent form

  • [no object, with infinitive] have the opportunity to do:he got to try out a few of these nice new cars

  • [no object, with present participle or infinitive] begin to be or do something, especially gradually or by chance: we got talking one evening [got me spending; get going; gets me dancing]

While have is a much used helping verb, some of your proposed constructions do work and some do not.


He had me stumped.

That music has me dancing.

She had me spending [but probably would not be used without additional modifiers, such as like a drunken sailor]

Not OK:

Bob had me drunk.

She had me stoned.

  • How should I choose the right verb? Sometimes 'get' is used and sometimes 'have'.
    – Monica
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 16:18
  • 1
    I do not believe there is a hard and fast rule. There is a good deal of overlap, but the times when one or the other is not appropriate has [got] me stumped. It seems idiomatic. If you look at the range of uses for got in the cited dictionary, it may give you a feel for when, but I cannot cite a definitive pattern. Practice helps you get it.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 16:36

Get and have are both auxiliary verbs like be, so their choice depends on the constructions they're in. Plus, get is related to both be and have -- it's the inchoative verb form for both of these auxiliaries.

Get is an inchoative verb, originally meaning come to have; therefore it's usable in many constructions with have:

  • He has a new car ~ He came to have a new car ~ He got a new car.
  • He has finished it ~ He has it finished ~ He'll get it finished.

Get also means come to be and is therefore also usable in many be constructions.

  • He married her ~ He was married to her ~ He got married to her.
  • He works on that ~ He is working on that ~ He got working on that.

Get can also, like most inchoatives, be used as a Causative, e.g, cause to come to be

  • The wiring is fixed ~ The wiring got fixed ~ He got the wiring fixed.
  • He is working on that ~ He got working on that ~ I got him going on that.

That's the source of most of the get examples in the original question.

Have, however, is another story altogether. There are a number of have constructions, including a volitional causative which also works with get:

  • He had the floors polished ~ He got the floors polished.

and a different construction of the same shape that implies bad fortune, and also works with get:

  • He had his tires slashed ~ He got his tires slashed.

and a sense in which it refers to success of a goal, and effectively means cause or make; get works here, also, but requires infinitives with to.

  • He had us dancing/dance on the table ~ He got us dancing/to dance on the table.
  • I had him see his advisor about that ~ I got him to see his advisor about that.

Finally, if you can say

  • I am spending

then you can say

  • She's got me spending


  • She has me spending.

in any tense of have or get, if you mean that she is the cause of your spending.


Just one supplement to the excellent answers by John Lawler and bib:

You can't say He had me drunk because "drunk", although it derives from a verb, is an adjectival use of the participle which no longer has verbal force in ordinary discourse: you would have to construct a very strange story for "He caused somebody to drink me" to be meaningul. You have to say He got me drunk, meaning "He caused me to become drunk".

The ambiguity of the participle is clearly exposed with stoned:

He had me stoned means "He caused someone to stone me", that is, to throw stones at me.

He got me stoned could mean that; but it's more likely to mean "He caused me to become stoned", that is, drug-intoxicated.

  • I think it's the possible ambiguity rather than the 'adjective-ness' of the participal / participial that legislates against the example you cite, He had me drunk. I'm happy with He had me drunk / tipsy by 9:30, and with He had me convinced (where convinced is obviously an adjectival, rather than a participle usage meaning He got people to convince me). Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 18:54
  • @EdwinAshworth A good point. Would you find it more accurate if I distinguished between passive and perfective uses of the participle? Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 21:20
  • There is perhaps, one other exception to your rejection of He had me drunk. The phrase had me can be used to refer to a sexual relationship that might logically fit. See Carly Simon's He's So Vain lyrics "You had me several years ago, when I was still quite naive . . . " In this example, it would mean He had me [while I was ] drunk. Obviously, this would require context to make sense.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 1:35
  • @bib Or of course it could bear the sense [while he was] drunk. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 1:42
  • @StoneyB True. Or even He had me [while we both were] drunk.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 1:46

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