has vs have

Has vs. Have: Learn the Difference Between These Important Words

As an English learner, 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 “has” vs. “have.”

Contents

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.

“Has” and “Have” to Mean Possession

When we talk about possessing (owning) something, we use the verb “to have.”

“To have” is the infinitive, or original, form of the verb.

Here are some conjugations of the verb “to have”:

TenseConjugation
Presenthas, have
Present progressiveis / are having
Pasthad

“Has” and “have” are both conjugations in the English present tense.

For example, look at the following sentences:

She has the book.

I have the book.

In both sentences, the verb “to have” is conjugated in the present tense.

“Has” and “Have” as Auxiliary Verbs

The verb “to have” has another use. It’s also an auxiliary verb.

An auxiliary verb is combined with another verb to complete the meaning of a sentence. Because of this, it’s also called a helping verb. For example:

She has eaten dinner already.

I have seen that movie.

These sentences both use the perfect tense. Here, “has” and “have” don’t indicate possession. Instead, adding “has” or “have” to another verb creates that verb’s perfect tense form

In general, the verb “to have” is important as an auxiliary verb because it creates the past perfect and present perfect tenses for other verbs. 

“Has” vs. “Have”: What’s the Difference? 

Really, the difference between “has” and “have” is all about English points of view:

Points of View in English

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:

Point of ViewMeaningSingular PronounPlural Pronoun
First PersonThe speaker is talking about himself or herself (with other people included if plural).IWe
Second PersonThe speaker is talking directly to somebody else.YouYou
Third PersonThe speaker is talking about somebody or something else.He (men)
She (women)
It (non-living things)
They (people or things)

Got it? Great! Now that you understand points of view, using “has” and “have” becomes very easy.

“Has” vs. “Have” in the Present Tense 

“Has” and “have” can both be used in the present tense as a main verb to mean possession.

Here’s the difference:  

Type of SentenceHasHave
Affirmative Statement✓ (he, she, it, singular nouns)✓ (I, we, you, plural nouns)
Negative Statement𐄂
Question𐄂

Using “Has” in the Present Tense

There are two points you have to remember: 

1. 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 used with singular pronouns like “everybody,” “anybody,” or “nobody”:

Everybody has a copy of the book.

Nobody has the answer.

I don’t think anybody has coffee.

2. “Has” is only used with affirmative (non-negative) statements. 

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.

Using “Have” in the Present Tense

1. 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”:

I have a headache.

You have a new laptop.

They have three cats.

We have a big house.

Also, use “have” with plural nouns or when talking about multiple people or things at the same time:

Those dresses have stripes.

Roger and I have a red car.

My dog and Patricia’s cat have brown fur.

2. If you’re asking a question or making a negative statement, then always use “have,” regardless of the point of view.

Here are some questions in the present tense, all using “have”: 

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:

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.

“Has” vs. “Have” in the Present Perfect Tense 

“Has” and “have” can also be auxiliary verbs that help create the present perfect tense, in combination with other verbs. 

The rules for using them as auxiliary verbs are actually simpler. It just depends on the subject: 

SubjectHasHave
PronounHe, she, itI, you, we, they
NounSingularPlural

Using “Has” in the Present Perfect Tense

Whatever kind of statement you’re making, whether it’s an affirmative or negative statement or even a question, you’ll use “has” as long as the subject is third-person singular: “he,” “she,” “it,” a name or a singular noun.

John has gone to California four times. (Affirmative statement)

The dog has not eaten today. (Negative statement)

Has she received the letter? (Question)

Has he not told you about this? (Question)

Using “Have” in the Present Perfect Tense

Similarly, with “have,” you use it in the present perfect tense with subjects “I,” “you,” “we” or “they,” as well as plural nouns.

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 any kind of statement or question too:

My friends have not watched “Game of Thrones.” (Negative statement)

You have not helped me at all. (Negative statement)

Have they asked too many questions? (Question)

Have we thought about this enough? (Question)

Summary: “Has” vs. “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.
  • Use “have” any time you use the subjects “I,” “you,” “they,” “we,” a plural noun or multiple subjects.

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.

Take Online Quizzes

You can test your progress by taking free online quizzes.

If you’re curious as to whether you’ve understood the differences between “has” and “have,” try this quiz on EnglishGrammar and this one on EnglishExcercises.

For on-the-go practice, check out this worksheet from Study.com that you can download and print.

Watch Authentic Videos

Think of something you’re interested in, and find English videos about it.

Whether you want to watch vehicle rescues or follow American sports, there’s something out there for you.

Action-packed themes like these often describe people and their qualities/attributes, so you’ll be able to hear the difference between “has” and “have” quite frequently. 

You could also use a virtual immersion platform.

FluentU, for example, has a large library of culturally relevant short videos for different learner levels, along with annotated subtitles. These can make it easier to notice the context that “has” and “have” are used in:

FluentU Has vs. Have Clip

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.”

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 we’ve provided in this article. Once you’ve changed the pronouns, change the verb to match.

 

Now, it’s time to use these important words.

Study all the examples closely. Use “has” and “have” in your daily conversations, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes!

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