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I heard the following sentence in the Narcos TV series, which takes place in Colombia:

Lo usamos y lo hicimos matar.

Translating literally, "lo hicimos matar" is "we made him kill" (= we got him to kill).

However, in this context the speaker is talking about the recently killed Minister of Justice, so I guess that "lo hicimos matar" must mean "we got him killed".

Is "hacer alguien hacer" an ambiguous expression in Spanish which may mean both "to make somebody do (something)" and "get somebody done"? Wouldn't "hicimos que lo mataran" be an unambiguous and clearer way to express the same idea?

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    Alan, as you are building up your experience asking questions, I think you will start to be ready to write better posed questions, in which you share with us one or more links to some resource(s) that you checked, which didn't solve your problem. – aparente001 Dec 14 '19 at 4:35
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    @aparente001 In this specific question about the two different meanings of the verb "hacer" together with another verb, I didn't even know where/how to look for. All dictionaries present a huge list of meanings for verb "hacer" and I could not find the meaning expressed in my example taking a quick look at WR/DLE. – Alan Evangelista Dec 14 '19 at 4:58
  • I agree, this would be a tough one for a learner. It took me a while to zero in on what I was looking for -- and I knew what I was looking for. But I think your questions will become better posed as you go along. People don't tend to start out asking well posed questions right off the bat. I know I didn't! – aparente001 Dec 14 '19 at 5:57
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    Though I generally agree with @aparente001 's statement, I think this particular question is good. The construction "lo hicimos matar"/"la hicimos construir" is quite complicated, and I wonder whether it comes from English, as "hicimos que lo mataran" sounds more natural to me. Note that DRAE only gives the construction with indirect object "Le hizo venir", where le indicates who does the action. The construction with two different direct obects "Lo hicimos matar", where the pronoun "lo" indicates who receives the action, is not in DRAE. – wimi Dec 14 '19 at 9:48
  • @wimi - That's why I included the Lexico definition. // What I found interesting is that the DRAE phrase "Obligar a que se ejecute aquello que expresa un verbo en infinitivo o una cláusula introducida por que" seems to be general enough to allow for both types. – aparente001 Dec 14 '19 at 14:21
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It's a special meaning of hacer.

DRAE:

  1. tr. Obligar a que se ejecute aquello que expresa un verbo en infinitivo o una cláusula introducida por que. Le hizo venir. Hizo que nos fuésemos.

Lexico:

El verbo hacer + infinitivo + complemento suele tener valor de voz pasiva cuando no se expresa el sujeto de la acción que el infinitivo señala. En estos casos se traduce por to have + object + participle:
- hizo arreglar el coche = he had his car repaired
- hizo construir la casa = he had the house built

Note that in the last example, if the listener knows that we're talking about the house, then we can use a pronoun, and the sentence becomes "La hizo construir" (I had it built).

So, "Lo hicimos matar" means "We had him killed."

The weird thing about this definition is that it actually encompasses two slightly different patterns. In "Le hizo venir," we're describing an action carried out by the referent of the object pronoun, and in "La hizo construir" and "Lo hicimos matar," we're describing an action carried out on the referent of the object pronoun.

In the case of "Le hizo venir," notice that the object pronoun is indirect. In the other examples, the object pronoun is direct.

In both cases, the subject made the action happen.

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  • Thanks for the explanation! So, "le hicimos matar" = "we made him kill" and "lo hicimos matar" = "we got him killed". You forgot to answer my last question: is the (IMHO simpler) construction "hicimos que lo mataran" identical to "lo hicimos matar" in this context? – Alan Evangelista Dec 14 '19 at 4:48
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    @AlanEvangelista - Ah. Sorry. Well, they're slightly different, actually. The line in the program packs more punch. It's succinct and thus more pithy. I suppose there could be a slight difference in meaning. If we do some complicated, Machiavellian set-up, we could cause him to be killed. However, "lo hicimos matar" is more direct, and it's equivalent to *we ordered a hit." – aparente001 Dec 14 '19 at 5:53
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    I just commented and then deleted the comment because I'm confused. To me Lo hicimos matar is actually ambiguous. Yet I'd never use le instead. I think this is me being loísta without realizing it until just now. – pablodf76 Dec 14 '19 at 20:02
  • @pablodf76 - The whole lo/le thing has always caused difficulty for me. But my ear tells me lo in this case without doubt. I've always heard "lo mataron." Lo mataron a balazos. Etc. – aparente001 Dec 14 '19 at 21:43

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