Have - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Have: forms

Have is an irregular verb. Its three forms are have, had, had. The present simple third person singular is has:

We usually have breakfast at about eight.

I had a strange dream last night.

She has quite dark hair.

Have: uses

We use have as a main verb and an auxiliary verb.

Have: typical error

  • We don’t use have in the third person singular of the present simple:

A meeting has been set up for Monday, 4pm.

Not: A meeting have been

Have as a main verb

The main verb have has lots of uses.


We use have to talk about things that we own or possess:

Do you have a car?

They have two dogs, Scruffy and Milly.

Events, actions, experiences and activities

I’m going to have a bath.

Let’s have a party to celebrate your birthday!

We have a break at 10 am.

Did you have a nice time in London?

Eating food and meals

We had a wonderful meal in the new restaurant on Elm Street.


Two coffees, please.


Large or small?


Er large. You want a large one, do you?


Mhm. Can I have a cake as well?

Shall we have lunch together sometime?

Days or parts of days

Have a nice day!

I had such a tough day.

Did you have a nice morning (or afternoon, evening, birthday, holiday)?

Hygiene routines and therapies

I had a shower and got ready to go out.

He needs to have a shave both in the morning and in the evening.

The doctor recommended that I should have massages every week on my back.

Conversations and interactions

I need to have a chat with Joan about your hours.

They had a big argument about money.

The chef and the manager had a row in the kitchen and everyone in the restaurant could hear them shouting.


She had a rest in the afternoon.

Did you have a good night’s sleep?

I used to have terrible dreams when I was young.

Accidents and problems with cars

She had an accident when she was young. She fell off a horse.

They had a crash but luckily no one was injured.

We had a breakdown on the motorway once.

Thankfully, I have never had a puncture.


They have a 15-hour flight from Rome.

Have a safe trip.

Did you have a pleasant journey?

Other common expressions with have

have a baby

have a think

have a try

have a problem

have a go

have a feeling/sense

have an operation

have a clue/idea

have a long wait

have a laugh (informal, a good time)

have a shock

have a surprise

Have: using the continuous form

We can use the continuous form to talk about an activity that is happening:

She’s having a bath right now. She’ll call you back.

We use the continuous form to talk about an activity that is planned for a future time:

I’m having lunch with Miriam on Wednesday.

They’re having a surprise party for Mike on Saturday night.

She’s having a baby in June.

We use the continuous form of have when the event or action is ongoing or repeated:

She was having nightmares for a year after the accident. (A nightmare is a bad dream.)

I’ve been having discussions with my boss about a transfer to Edinburgh. I think he’s going to agree.

He’s having trouble with his car.

Have as an auxiliary verb

Have is one of three auxiliary verbs in English: be, do and have. We use have before -ed forms to make the present perfect and past perfect.

Present perfect

Past perfect

have + -ed form

had + -ed form

They have moved house.

We had paid in advance.

He’s studied a lot. (full form: has)

I’d known her for years. (full form: had)

We use have, not do, to make questions and negatives of perfect verb forms.

Present perfect

Past perfect

Have you seen Maria?

Had they been waiting for long?

Not: Do you have

Not: Did they had

I haven’t eaten yet.

We hadn’t brought a map.

Not: I don’t have

Not: We didn’t had

(“Have” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
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