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Verb "To Have" in English
How to Use "To Have" in EnglishThe verb "to have" is a common verb in English. It has 4 different forms:
- have, has, having, had
- (1) A main verb
- I have an apple. (As a main verb, it usually means "to possess.")
- (2) An auxiliary verb
- I have eaten an apple. (As an auxiliary verb, it helps to show tense.)
- (3) A modal verb
- I have to eat an apple. (As a modal verb, "have to" means "must.")
"To Have" As a Main VerbAs a main verb, "to have" has many meanings, but most of the time, it will mean "to possess" or "to experience". For example:
- I have a dog. (I "possess" a dog.)
- She has a Mathematics degree. (She "possesses" a Mathematics degree.)
- I had a good day. (I "experienced" a great day.)
"To Have" As an Auxiliary VerbAs an auxiliary verb (or helping verb), the meaning comes from the verb it is helping. For example:
- I have worked all day. (Here, "to have" is an auxiliary verb helping the verb "to work.")
- Sarah has flown back to Argentina. (Here, "to have" is an auxiliary verb helping the verb "to fly.")
- He had heard the truth. (Here, "to have" is an auxiliary verb helping the verb "to hear.")
- I've worked all day. (Notice that have becomes 've.)
- Sarah's flown back to Argentina. (Notice that has becomes 's.)
- He'd heard the truth. (Notice that had becomes 'd.)
More about "To Have" As an Auxiliary VerbWhen used as an auxiliary verb, "to have" helps to show the tense of the verb it is helping.
The "has" and "have" forms are used to show the present perfect tense.
- Tom has cleaned the car.
The "had" form is used to show the past perfect tense.
- Tom and Alice had cleaned the car.
"To Have" As a Modal VerbWhen used as a modal verb, "have to" means "must." It expresses an obligation or necessity.
- Tom and Alice have to clean the car.
The 5 Forms of a VerbAs we've covered, there are 4 different versions of the verb "to have." They are "have," "has," "had," and "having." There are no other versions of the verb.
This table shows where these feature in the 5 grammatical forms of a verb:
|Form||To Have||Alternative Name|
|Base Form||have||Infinitive Form|
|Present Tense Forms||has, have||[no alternative name]|
|Past Forms||had||Simple Past Tense|
|The -ING Form||having||Present Participle Form|
|The Past Participle Form||had||[no alternative name]|
- "Has" and "have" are the present tense forms.
- "Had" is the past tense form.
- "Had" is also the past participle form.
- We have had a wonderful time. (In this example, "have" is an auxiliary verb, helping to form the present perfect tense, and "had" is the main verb in the form a past participle. Remember that "to have" is unusual because it can be an auxiliary verb and a main verb.)
- The horses were having fun. (The horses were "experiencing" fun. In this example, "were" is an auxiliary verb.)
- Having seen that, I now believe in ghosts. (Here, "having" is an auxiliary verb helping the verb "to see.")
|I have a dog.||We have a dog.|
|You have a dog.||You have a dog.|
|He/she/it has a dog.||They have a dog.|
|I had a cat.||We had a cat.|
|You had a cat.||You had a cat.|
|He/she/it had a cat.||They had a cat.|
Negative Forms of "To Have"Creating the negative forms of "to have" is difficult for leaners because the negative form depends whether "to have" is a main verb, an auxiliary verb, or a modal verb.
|have||do not have|
|has||does not have|
|had||did not have|
|having||not having||not having|
More about "To Have"The verb "have" is an irregular verb. (This means that "have" does not form its simple past tense or its past participle by adding "-ed" or "-d" to the base form.)
Conjugating "To Have" FullyThe tables below show how "to have" conjugates in all 12 of the past, present, and future tenses. Bear in mind that "to have" is used as both the auxiliary verb and the main verb in these conjugation tables.
|Person||Simple Past||Past Progressive Tense||Past Perfect Tense||Past Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple past tense is for a completed activity that happened in the past.
The past progressive tense is for an ongoing activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action.
The past perfect tense is for emphasizing that an action was completed before another took place.
The past perfect progressive tense is for showing that an ongoing action in the past has ended.
|Person||Simple Present||Present Progressive Tense||Present Perfect Tense||Present Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple present tense is mostly for a fact or a habit.
The present progressive tense is for an ongoing action in the present.
The present perfect tense is for an action that began in the past. (Often, the action continues into the present.)
The present perfect progressive tense is for a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present (or finished very recently).
|Person||Simple Future||Future Progressive Tense||Future Perfect Tense||Future Perfect Progressive Tense|
The simple future tense is for an action that will occur in the future.
The future progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will occur in the future.
The future perfect tense is for an action that will have been completed at some point in the future.
The future perfect progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future.
Most Common Irregular VerbsThe two most common irregular verbs in English are be and "have."
Here are the next 10 most common irregular verbs in English:
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