Did you know that To Have and To Receive are two different usages of HAVE?


Here are some examples:

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I had my computer updated by Peter Pfister  in the Help Desk office.

I had my computer stolen from my backpack.

 

The first sentence is easy enough: the speaker used someone's expertise to fix their computer. But what about the second sentence? Did the speaker have someone steal their computer? If

 

not, why say I" had my computer stolen instead of My computer  was stolen?

 

"Though the two sentences have the same construction — Subject + Verb + Object +Past Participle — they aren't creating the same meaning because have does not have the same meaning." says Erin Brenner in an interesting article about the uses of "have".

 

  In the first sentence, had tells us the relationship between the subject (I) and the object (my computer updated): I caused my computer to be updated. The speaker didn't update the computer themselves but had someone else do it. (Thank you HELP DESK!)

 

  In the second sentence,  had is again connecting the subject (I) with the object (my computer stolen), but it's showing a different relationship. Here, the subject experienced the action buried in the object. The object tells us that a computer was stolen. I had shows that the speaker experienced the theft.


So, how do I know which one to use?  That will depend on your emphasis. 


"The modern writing style trends toward shorter, more direct sentences and, as a result, more immediate action. Both of these sentence structures put the action at a distance... Consider what the main point of your sentence is and use sentence structure to make that point clear."

ESL-Students