Has vs Have: What's the difference?

Learning Jul 19, 2021

This is a verb that can be used in various ways but the technicalities of how and when to use the various forms of the verb have will be explained in this article. It is important to remember that this verb is both transitive and irregular as its third person singular noun is not “haves” but “has”. The past tense and past participle form of have is had and the gerund or present participle of this word is having.

What does it mean and where is it from? 

The etymology of this word is that it originates from the Germanic languages and old English languages. In Old English the word root is habban, in German it is haben and in Dutch it is hebben. This word indicates a couple of things: Possession of, placing or keeping something in place, comprising of (being made up of), undergo or experience something and to show a quality by one’s actions. But now that we know what it could mean. Let us see how to use the word:


This is the root of the verb and is used with pronouns (I, you, we, they) as well as plural nouns. Have is also mostly used in the present tense but sometimes has can also be used.

Here is how we use have with pronouns:

I: I have an English Language Class later.

You (singular): You have excellent pronunciation.

We: We will start learning English.

They: They have enrolled Online English Classes.

Plural nouns: The instructors at this school have lots of experience.

These classes have been very informative for non-native English speakers.


We use has with the singular forms of the following words and with the third person singular noun:

a proper noun, like a person’s name: Santiago has become fluent.

A Title: Queen Elizabeth has a very posh English accent.

He: He has a native speaker to practice with.

She: She is a language instructor and has a TEFL Certificate.

It: It has lots of grammar and vocabulary.


There are six negative contractions for these verbs:

I have – I’ve sent you a textbook.

You have – You’ve received your test results.

We have – We’ve passed the IELTS exam.

They have – They’ve to finish their Conversation Class.

He has - He’s enrolled in English language classes.

It has – It’s been a long process to become fluent.

Negative contractions

There are three types of negative contractions for these verbs:

Has not – James hasn’t read Harry Potter Series.

Have not – I haven’t spoken to my language instructor yet.

Had not – It hadn’t occurred to me that I need to correct my accent.

Modal verbs ‘have to

A modal verb is an action word that conveys possibility or necessity. In the affirmative we use the following equation: subject + modal (has to/have to) + verb

I have to go to class today.

She has to do her grammar homework.

I had to revise my pronunciation exercises.


As always with English Grammar there are exceptions to the rule. In regard to has and have there are two exceptions:

When a question is posed: 

When a question is asked, we use have or its negative. Whereas we usually use the word have after plural nouns and the pronouns I, You, We, You and They:

Does she have the definition?

Can he have an extra lesson on pronunciation?

Would he pass his TOEFL Exam if he improves his grammar?

He and She:

When the person singular pronouns He and She, are combined to form one plural:

She and he have the same classes.

Both he and she have become professors.

Does he and she have the homework correct?


There are quite a few rules that govern the usage of have and had, which are good to learn initially but there is hope. With more English practise and exposure, these rules will become internalised and it will soon feel very natural using have and had correctly. The main rule to remember really is never to use “HAVES”.

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