What is the difference in meaning between the two statements below?
‘I cut my hair.’
‘I got my hair cut’.
When you ‘get/have something done’, you pay/ask someone to do something for you.
- a dentist/optician (get your teeth whitened, eyes checked)
- a mechanic (get your car fixed, oil changed)
- a beautician (get your nails done, legs waxed)
- certain house-related chores (get the windows cleaned/roof repaired)
- deliveries (get flowers/food delivered)
- services (have your photo taken)
'have' vs 'get'
‘Have something done’ is more formal than‘get something done’.
to have/get + something + 3rd form
This construction is similar to the PASSIVE because you use the 3rd form of the verb (Past Participle).
In the Passive, the verb ‘be‘ changes to show tense e.g.
- It is/was made in the UK.
- They are/were made in France.
Here, the verbs ‘get/have‘ change to show tense. The 3rd form stays the same. Follow this pattern:
I’m going to get/have
I’d like to get/have
+ 3rd form
- I got/had my hair cut. [Past Tense]
- He gets/has his hair cut once a month. [Present Simple]
- I’m getting/having my hair cut this afternoon. [Diary Future]
- I’ve just had my hair cut. [Present Perfect]
Think about how you would answer these questions in the IELTS Speaking Test:
- How often do you get your hair cut?
- How often do you get your eyes checked?
- When did you last have your hair cut?
- Have you ever had your hair permed/dyed?
- Have you ever had your photo taken professionally?
- Do you ever get your food delivered?
- Would you like to have your teeth whitened/straightened?
- Have you ever had your phone stolen?
[you don’t need to repeat the question or use the structure – just give a natural answer].
- I usually go to the hairdresser every 3 months.
- Once a year.
- A year ago because of Covid!
- I dye my hair myself, and I had my hair permed once when I was a teenager (never again!).
- I got some photos taken for my website.
- I never get takeaways but I’ve had a few Tesco deliveries since lockdown.
- I’d love to have my teeth whitened and straightened.
- No but someone stole my wallet when I was travelling abroad.
get someone to do something
When you ask someone specific to do a job for you, you can express it like this:
‘I’m not good with tech, so I usually get my son to fix the computer’.
‘I hate cooking, so I usually get my husband to do it’.
'It needs +ing'
This is another way to say that something needs to be done:
- My car needs fixing = My car needs to be fixed = I need to get my car fixed.
- My windows need cleaning. = My windows need to be cleaned. = I need to get my windows cleaned.
- The oil needs changing. = The oil needs to be changed. = I need to get the oil changed.
How to use this grammar in IELTS
We’ve looked at questions that come up in the Speaking Test above.
In General Training Writing Task 1, there is often a letter of complaint to a landlord.
This language is perfect for letters of complaint about your house/flat.
- The water boiler needs replacing.
- The light needs fixing.
- We need to get the cooker repaired.
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