“I have the book. Does she have the book?”
“Yes, she has the book. Everyone has the book!”
“I don’t have the book!”
What’s going on here?
All of these sentences are about who owns a book. But do you notice how sometimes we use “has” and sometimes we use “have”?
These two small words mean the same thing, but they have different grammatical uses.
If you’re learning English, you probably see the English words “has” and “have” frequently.
If you’re a beginner English speaker, you might be confused about how to use them. In that case, you’ve come to the right post.
We’re going to crack the code and solve the mystery of “have” vs. “have.”
Let’s get started!
The Basics: What Are “Has” and “Have”?
“Has” and “have” are both verbs.
Verbs are used to indicate action. Along with nouns, adjectives, pronouns and prepositions, they’re one of the basic parts of speech in English.
When we talk about possessing (owning) something, we use the verb “to have.”
“To have” is the infinitive, or original, form of the verb.
“Has” and “have” are both conjugations of this infinitive form, in the English present tense.
For example, look at the following sentences:
I have the book.
She has the book.
In both the sentences, the verb “to have” is conjugated in the present tense.
What Are Other Conjugations of “To Have”?
In addition to “has” and “have,” you may also see “to have” conjugated in some different ways:
Had: This is the conjugation for the past tense.
Having: This is the gerund form of “to have,” and it’s also used in the present progressive tense.
Using “To Have” as an Auxiliary Verb
In addition to possession, “to have” also has another use. It’s also an auxiliary verb.
An auxiliary verb is also called a helping verb. It’s combined with another verb to complete the meaning of a sentence.
“To have” is an important auxiliary verb because we use it to create the past perfect and present perfect tenses. For example:
She has eaten dinner already.
I have seen that movie.
Here, the verb doesn’t indicate possession. Instead, it’s used in combination with another verb.
How to Practice “Has” and “Have”
Practicing English grammar doesn’t need to be hard or boring. There are many amazing resources available on the internet, plus other fun ways to practice.
Watch Videos on FluentU
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Instead of asking you to memorize grammar rules, FluentU takes an immersive approach. It shows you authentic English language videos made by native speakers. Each video comes with interactive subtitles, so you can follow along and quickly look up words.
Immersing yourself in English helps you learn and remember grammar rules like the difference between “has” and “have.” If you listen to enough English, you’ll be able to know which word to use just by knowing what “sounds right.”
After each video, you can use quizzes and flashcard review games to learn even more. It’s an informative and entertaining experience for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners.
If you’re still unsure, you can sign up for a free trial to get a taste of how amazing the app is.
Take Online Quizzes
You can also test your progress by taking free online quizzes.
For on-the-go practice, check out this worksheet from Study.com that you can download and print.
Write from Multiple Points of View
If you’re keen to improve both your grammar and writing skills, try this writing exercise. Write a short paragraph about yourself. Be sure to use the verb “have” as many times as you can.
Then, rewrite the paragraph as though it’s about somebody else. As we’ll see below, this will force you to practice the difference between “has” and “have.”
As a warm-up exercise, you can also try changing the pronouns in the example sentences I’ve provided in this article. Once you’ve changed the pronouns, change the verb to match.
Has vs. Have: Learn the Difference Between These Important Words
Really, the difference between “has” and “have” is all about who is speaking and who is being spoken about.
In order to really understand “has” vs. “have,” it’s important to understand English points of view.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking…
What Are Points of View in the English Language?
In English, anything we read or speak is coming from a particular point of view. The point of view tells you who is speaking, and who is being spoken about.
You can know the point of view by looking at which pronouns are used. Let’s quickly review:
In the first-person point of view, the speaker is talking about himself or herself. Or, the speaker is talking about himself or herself plus other people.
I: First-person singular pronoun
We: First-person plural pronoun (for talking about yourself and other people)
In the second-person point of view, the speaker is talking directly to somebody else.
You: Second-person singular or plural pronoun
In the third-person point of view, the speaker is talking about somebody or something else.
He: Third-person singular pronoun, for talking about men
She: Third-person singular pronoun, for talking about women
It: Third-person singular pronoun, for inanimate (not living) things
They: Third-person plural pronoun, for talking about people or things
Got it? Great! Now, let’s look at “has” and “have.”
When to Use “Has”
Using “Has” in the Present Tense
Now that you’ve understood points of view, using “has” and “have” becomes very easy.
In the present tense, “has” is used with the third-person singular point of view.
That means you’ll use it with he, she, it, a name or a singular noun.
It’s also only used with affirmative statements. That means if you’re asking a question, or if you’re talking in the negative (using the word “not”), you won’t use “has.”
He has brown eyes.
She has the answer to your question.
That book has 400 pages.
Japan has amazing food.
Meena has 45 pencils.
“Has” is also used with singular pronouns like “everybody,” “anybody” and “nobody.”
Everybody has a copy of the book.
Nobody has the answer.
I don’t think anybody has coffee.
Using “Has” as an Auxiliary Verb in the Present Perfect Tense
We also use “has” as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect tense.
Again, this is only in the case of a third-person singular subject: he, she, it, a name or a singular noun.
However, in the present perfect tense—unlike in the present tense—we use “has” whether we’re making a statement or asking a question. Also, we use “has” whether the sentence is affirmative or negative.
John has gone to California four times. (Affirmative statement)
Has she received the letter? (Affirmative question)
The dog has not eaten today. (Negative statement)
Has he not told you about this? (Negative question)
When to Use “Have”
Using “Have” in the Present Tense
In the present tense, use “have” in the first- and second-person points of view, and in the third-person plural point of view.
In other words, use “have” with the subjects I, you, we or they. Also, use “have” with plural nouns or when talking about multiple people or things at the same time.
I have a headache.
You have a new laptop.
They have three cats.
We have a big house.
Those dresses have stripes.
Roger and I have a red car.
My dog and Patricia’s cat have brown fur.
In the present tense, if you’re asking a question, you use “have” regardless of the point of view:
Does anybody have the answer to the question?
Do you have the book?
Does she have a house?
Does Meena have a best friend?
Do I have your attention?
The same is true for negative statements in the present tense. Again, use “have” regardless of the point of view.
She does not have a room.
I do not have a brother.
They do not have time to see you.
The movie does not have a good plot.
We do not have a dog.
To repeat: with a negative statement or a question, use “have” even if the subject is he, she, it, a name or a singular noun.
Using “Have” as an Auxiliary Verb in the Present Perfect Tense
In the present perfect tense, use “have” in any situation where you’re using the subjects I, you, we or they.
I have watched “Game of Thrones” four times.
You have helped me a lot.
They have asked many questions.
We have thought about this all day.
This is true for questions and negative statements, too:
I have not watched “Game of Thrones.”
You have not helped me at all.
Have they asked too many questions?
Have we thought about this enough?
Let’s Summarize: The Main Differences Between “Has” and “Have”
Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve learned:
- “To have” is the verb associated with possession or ownership.
- “Have” and “has” are both conjugations of “to have” in the present tense
- “Have” and “has” are also used as auxiliary (helping) verbs in the present perfect tense
In the present tense…
- Use “has” with the subjects he, she, it, a name or a singular noun.
- Use “have” with the subjects I, you, they, we, a plural noun or multiple subjects.
- But, use “have” for any questions or any negative statements—no matter the “point of view.”
In the present perfect tense…
- Use “has” any time you use the subjects he, she, it, a name or a singular noun—for affirmative statements, negative statements and questions.
- Use “have” any time you use the subjects I, you, they, we, a plural noun or multiple subjects—for affirmative statements, negative statements and questions.
Now, it’s time to use these important words! The best way to learn is to practice. Study all the examples closely. Use “has” and “have” in your daily conversations, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Try to explain the differences to a friend. The more you practice, the better you’ll be.
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Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
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