How to use the verb to have in english?

How to use the verb to have in english?


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Have can be a main verb or an auxiliary verb that is used to indicate the tense or appearance of another verb.

HAVE as a main verb

To have is used as the main verb to indicate possession, a characteristic, relationships….

  • I have 20€ in my pocket.
  • She has a lot of free time these days. 

1. IN THE SIMPLE PRESENT

Pronouns Affirmative sentence Negative sentence Questions (add Do or Does)
I, we, you, they I have a new car. I don’t have a new car. Do I have a new car?
he, she, it She has a new car. She doesn’t have a new car. Does she have a new car?

The contracted form

  • I have → I’ve
  • You have →You’ve
  • He / She / It has → He’s / She’s / It’s
  • We have → We’ve
  • You have → You’ve
  • They have → They’ve

The negative contraction:  has not = hasn’t         have not = haven’t

⚠ have got OR have? Both mean the same thing, there is no difference. Have got is more commonly used in British English to indicate the possession of objects, characteristics or relationships (‘got’ is the verb ‘get’ in the present perfect):

  • I have got an Iphone. = I have an Iphone.
  • I’ve got a headache. = I have a headache.
  • Kevin has got three cousins. = Kevin has three cousins. 
  • She’s got long hair. = She has long hair.
  • He has got some friends in Berlin. = He has some friends in Berlin.

In the end, for negative questions and sentences there are therefore three possible forms:

  • Have you got any money? → I haven’t got any money.
  • Do you have any money? → I don’t have any money.
  • Have you any money? (not really used) → I haven’t any money. (not really used)
  • Has she got a pen? → She hasn’t got a pen.
  • Does she have a pen? → She doesn’t have a pen.
  • Has she a pen? (not really used) → She hasn’t a pen. (not really used)

2. IN THE PRETERIT OR SIMPLE PAST

Pronouns Affirmative sentence Negative sentence Questions (add Do or Does)
I, he, she, it, we, you, they I had a new car. I did not have a new car. Did I have a new car?

The contracted form

Have has always the same form when it’s used at the preterit: had (without got). The contracted form is used only for have as an auxiliary : you can not say I’d a new car BUT I had a new car.

  • I had → I’d 
  • You had → You’d
  • He / She / It had → He’d / She’d / It’d
  • We had → We’d
  • You had → You’d
  • They had → They’d

The negative contraction:      had not = hadn’t

Questioning and negative forms: we use did and didn’t

In the preterite, have is conjugated like ordinary verbs, with the auxiliary did.

  • What did you have for lunch today? 
  • I didn’t have time to watch TV yesterday. 
  • Did you have a car when you were living in Japan? 

Be careful not to use got in the past!

  • Tina had long hair when she was a child. (NOT Tina had got)

Have as an auxiliary

Have is used as an auxiliary verb in the so-called ‘perfect’ tenses: it must be conjugated according to the time you want to use. Here is a quick overview of the tenses that use have as an auxiliary verb:

  • Present Perfect: I have seen this film twice. 
  • Present Perfect Continuous: They have been waiting for over an hour. 
  • Past Perfect: The meeting had already started by the time I arrived. 
  • Past Perfect Continuous: They had been talking for over an hour before Kevin arrived. 
  • Future Perfect: She will have finished before nine o’clock. 
  • Future Perfect Continuous: Next year I will have been working here for two years. 

As an auxiliary, Have places itself in front of the subject in an interrogative form.

  • Have you ever used a smartphone? 

In the negative form, it is followed by not. There is a contracted form.

  • Has not → hasn’t
  • have not → haven’t

Example: Have you seen him? → No, I haven’t seen him. 

The different utilisations of HAVE:

Have can mean different things:

  • have breakfast / lunch / a pizza / a drink / a cup of coffee
  • have dinner
  • have a bath / a shower
  • have a walk
  • have a good time
  • have a dream
  • have a holiday
  • have a rest
  • have a break
  • have a party
  • have a look
  • have a nice day
  • have a try
  • have a chat, a conversation, a discussion
  • have a fight, an argument

Some examples:

  • Samantha is having a bath at the moment.
  • We’re going to have a party next saturday.
  • She usually has breakfast at eight o’clock.

The modal verb ‘have to’

Have to express the obligation, or that something is necessary:

  • I have to get up early tomorrow.
  • Do we have to leave now?
  • You have to go and see her.
  • I have to wash my car today.
  • He has to write a report.
  • I had to go to the bank yesterday.

When used in negative form, have to means that something is not necessary or mandatory:

  • We don’t have to work tomorrow.
  • He doesn’t have to work in the evening.
  • I didn’t have to make my bed when I was living with my parents.

Combine have and had

Have had is the perfect present tense of the verb “to have”.

  • I have had a lot of homework this week.
  • Have you had your breakfast?
  • I haven’t had any rest since morning.




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