en English

Have it done, or do it yourself?

A common grammar mistake made by students is to say things like:

Sorry I couldn’t answer your phone call. I was doing acupuncture. (針灸)

Assuming that the doctor was performing the procedure, you could say:

Sorry I couldn’t answer your phone call. I was having acupuncture done.

The second way means that the doctor was performing acupuncture on you, whereas the first way means that you were doing acupuncture on someone else (or on yourself😲).

The grammar you need for this sentence is called causative passive construction, or commonly referred to as “have something done“.

The general structure of this grammar is: have + object + past participle

have my hair coloured

have my hair cut

have my eyes checked

have my blood pressure taken

Notice that for I was doing acupuncture, do changes tense:

was doing

Whereas, for I was having acupuncture done, have changes tense:

was having

Have changes tense according to when the event happens, but the object + past participle don’t change:

had my hair cut and coloured two months ago.

I‘ve had my hair cut and coloured recently.

I‘m going to have my hair cut and coloured this evening.

I‘ll be having my hair cut and coloured in two hours.

If there are two objects and the statement is negative, use or instead of and.

didn’t have my hair cut or coloured two months ago.

haven’t had my hair cut or coloured for a while.

I‘m not going to have my hair cut or coloured this evening.

wont be having my hair cut or coloured in two hours.

You can replace have with get for the same meaning, though, get sounds more casual than have.

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