The verb have is very interesting, because it serves many purposes, and that’s why it’s so easily confused. It can be used as an auxiliary and as a main verb.
Let’s have a look at the different uses:
- As an auxiliary verb, it is used to make the perfect tenses of main verbs. Remember that the perfect tenses of main verbs use the appropriate form of have, present or past, followed by the past participle:
- I have done my homework.
- She has never gone to France.
- He has broken her ankle.
In these sentences, have doesn’t really have a meaning. It just helps the other verbs to form their perfect tense form.
- As a main verb, expressing possession, personal characteristics, relationships, illnesses etc. In this case, it does have a meaning.
- My daughter has a lot of dolls. (She owns a lot of dolls)
- My classmates have a nice personality. (Personal characteristics)
- I have two children (Relationship)
In these sentences, there are no other verbs apart from have, so have is the main verb.
So far, so good. Easy to understand.
Now, here comes the problem. How do I know when to say “I haven’t…” or “I don’t have…”? Let’s see if these charts help you:
- HAVE as the main verb:
a. Have as a main verb in the present simple:
b. Have as a main verb in the past simple:
2. HAVE as an AUXILILARY verb
a. have as an auxiliary in the Present Perfect (past participle)
b. have as an auxiliary in the Past Perfect (past participle)
c. have as an auxiliary in the Future Perfect (past participle)
3. HAVE as an AUXILILARY verb and a MAIN VERB
a. have as an auxiliary and a main verb – Present Perfect (had)
b. have as an auxiliary and a main verb – Past Perfect (had)
Sometimes, you might hear people saying ‘She hasn’t a daughter’ or ‘I haven’t a car’, but remember that these forms are incorrect and very unusual.