ESL – The verb ‘ to have ‘ Part 1

17 October


The verb ‘ to have ‘ Part 1

The verb have is used in a number of different ways in English. Here are the main uses of the verb have for reference, self-study and in-class use.

Have for Possession

Have is used as a main verb to indicate possession of objects, characteristics, relationships or other qualities.

  • He has three books by Hemingway.
  • Jane has a sister in France.
  • Frank has a lot of free time these days.

Have Got for Possession

Have got is also used, especially in British English, to indicate possession of objects, characteristics, relationships, or other qualities.

  • He’s got some friends in Wales.
  • He’s got red hair and freckles.
  • Alice has got three cousins.

Have – Action Verb

Have is also used as a main verb to express a number of actions including:

  • have a bath, wash, shower, etc. – I usually have a bath before I go to bed.
  • have breakfast, lunch, dinner – When are we going to have dinner tomorrow?
  • have fun – I had a lot of fun last weekend.
  • have time – Do you have any time available next week?
  • have questions – I have a few questions for you.
  • have a party – We’re going to have a party next weekend.
  • have a walk, hike, ride, etc. – Let’s have a hike later today.
  • have a discussion, fight, argument etc. – Unfortunately, we had a fight last night.

Note that have a bath / shower and have a hike / walk is often expressed by take a bath / shower and take a hike / walk.

Have – Auxiliary Verb

Have is also used as an auxiliary verb in perfect and perfect continuous tenses. Remember that the auxiliary verb takes the conjugation in English, so the verb havewill change depending on the tense. Here is a quick review of the tenses that use haveas an auxiliary verb:

Present Perfect

Use the present perfect to express actions which began in the past and continue into the present. The present perfect is also used to speak about experience without giving details.

  • He has been to Georgia twice.
  • I’ve been to Vienna a few times.

Present Perfect Continuous

Use the present perfect continuous to express how long a present action has lasted.

  • They have been waiting for over an hour.
  • She’s been playing tennis since ten o’clock.

Past Perfect

Use the past perfect for actions that are completed before other actions in the past.

  • He had already eaten when she arrived.
  • We had already finished the meeting when Tom made his decision.

Past Perfect Continuous

Use the past perfect continuous to express how long an action lasted before another action took place.

  • Jane had been working for two hours when he telephoned.
  • They had been playing golf for five hours when it began to rain.
  • We have people visit us all the time.
  • Sherry had her children playing in the garden.
  • I’d have music being performed at my funeral.

You must be joking!

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