Have and Has: Ultimate Guide to Grammar Rules and Differences

In the huge topic of English grammar, understanding the difference between the verbs have and has is fundamental. These differences are crucial for creating clear and effective sentences.

These words do more than just indicate possession; they lay the foundation for expressing experiences, obligations, and relationships between subjects and objects within a sentence.

Mastering the use of have and has not only enhances your ability to communicate accurately but also elevates your overall English language proficiency. Whether you’re engaging in everyday conversation, composing an email, or drafting an academic paper, a solid grasp of have and has ensures your message is understood as intended.

For English language learners, understanding these verbs opens up new avenues of expression, making your journey into English both more rewarding and more fluent.

This article aims to explain the verbs have and has, showing you how to use them the correct way and avoid making mistakes.

how many countries have you been to
I have & I’ve

Understanding Have and Has

Have and has are forms of the verb “to have.” This verb is used a lot in English. It helps us talk about owning something or being in a certain state.

For example, saying “I have a book” means you own a book. But these words can also help us talk about experiences, like “I have visited London.”

The Basic Difference between Have and Has

In English grammar, the main difference between have and has depends on the subject of the sentence, an important distinction that guides their usage:

  • Has is used with he, she, it, or a single person’s name. For example, “She has a cat” or “John has a car.”
  • Have is used with I, you, we, they, or more than one person or thing. Like, “They have a house” or “I have a question” or “John and Joan have a car”.
i have she has

Here’s a simple table to help you remember:

Subject / PronounVerb Form

By understanding this basic rule, you can start to use have and has correctly in your sentences.

Have and Has Examples

To illustrate the grammar differences more clearly, here are some examples showcasing how have and has are applied in various contexts.

Subject/ PronounVerb FormExample SentenceAdditional Info
IhaveI have a blue bicycle.Have is used with “I” for possession and experiences.
I have travelled to Japan twice.
YouhaveYou have a message waiting.Have is also used with “you,” both singular and plural.
You have done an excellent job.
HehasHe has a meeting at 10 AM.Has is used for third person singular (he, she, it).
He has finished his homework.
ShehasShe has a beautiful garden.
She has seen that movie before.
IthasIt has rained all day.
It has a scratch on the side.
WehaveWe have a big test tomorrow.Have is used with “we” for shared experiences or possessions.
We have been friends for years.
TheyhaveThey have a new puppy.Have is used with “they” for plural subjects.
They have visited many countries.
John and EmilyhaveJohn and Emily have a wedding anniversary today.Have is used for two or more people considered together.
John and Emily have planned a trip to Italy.
The catshaveThe cats have caused quite a mess.Have is used for plural subjects, including animals.
The cats have their own Instagram page.
has she finished no she hasn't
Has and hasn’t

How to use have and has

When to Use Have

Have is versatile, covering first and second person perspectives, as well as third person plural. Here’s how:

  • First Person (I/we): “I have a blue car” or “We have a plan.” These phrases express possession or a state of being.
  • Second Person (You): Whether speaking to one person or many, use “have,” as in “You have a call waiting” or “You all have assignments due tomorrow.”
  • Third Person Plural (They): “They have tickets to the concert.” This indicates that the group owns something or is experiencing something together.

When to Use “Has

Has is specifically for third person singular subjects. This includes he, she, it, or any singular noun.

  • He Has: “He has a new car.” It tells us about his possession.
  • She Has: “She has a question.” This indicates something she is experiencing or wants to do.
  • It Has: “It has a bright colour.” Describes a characteristic of an object.
sarah has
Sarah has / She has

Exploring Have and Has in Tenses for Beginners

Understanding how have and has work in different tenses broadens your ability to express time in English.

Present Tense

In the present tense, have and has illustrate current states or possessions:

  • Affirmative: “I have a cat” (first or second person, or third person plural), “He has a cat” (third person singular).
  • Negative: To make a sentence negative, add “do not” (don’t) or “does not” (doesn’t) before have, as in “I don’t have a cat” or “He doesn’t have a cat.”
  • Question: For questions, invert the subject and have/has, as in “Do you have a cat?” or “Does she have a cat?”
i have four balloons
I have four balloons.

Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is used to talk about actions or states that have relevance to the present moment. It is formed with have/has and the past participle of a verb.

  • Affirmative: “I have seen that movie,” “She has visited Paris.”
  • Negative: Include “not” after have/has, as in “I have not seen that movie,” “He has not visited Paris.”
  • Question: Invert have/has with the subject for questions, like “Have you seen that movie?” or “Has he visited Paris?”

Have vs Has in Tenses for Advanced Learners

Have and has are not limited to just the present and present perfect tenses in their function as auxiliary verbs. They play a role in other tenses and grammatical constructions as well, such as:

  1. Present Perfect Continuous Tense: This tense uses have or has followed by “been” and the present participle (verb+ing) to talk about actions that began in the past and are still continuing or were happening until recently. E.g., “I have been studying English for five years,” or “She has been working there since 2010.”
  2. Past Perfect Tense: Although the past perfect tense uses had for all subjects, understanding the role of have in different tenses helps grasp the continuity across tenses. E.g., “By the time the class started, I had finished my homework.”
  3. Conditional Sentences: Have and has can also appear in conditional constructions, especially in the third conditional, which deals with situations in the past that did not happen. E.g., “If I had known, I would have told you.”
  4. Passive Voice Constructions: In passive voice sentences where the subject receives the action, have and has can be part of the present perfect tense or other structures. E.g., “The work has been completed.”
have you been
How to use haven’t.

Contractions with Have and Has

Contractions are a natural part of English, making sentences shorter and often easier to say.

With have and has, contractions are common in both spoken and written English, especially in informal settings.

Common Contractions:

  • With “Have”:
    • I have = I’ve
    • We have = We’ve
    • You have = You’ve
    • They have = They’ve
      • Example: “I’ve always wanted to learn guitar.”
      • “They’ve got a new pet.”
  • With “Has“:
    • He has = He’s
    • She has = She’s
    • It has = It’s
      • Example: “She’s been to France twice.”
      • “It’s been a long day.”

Contractions with have and has are particularly useful in conversational English and informal writing.

They can make your speech sound more natural and fluent.

However, in formal writing, it’s often recommended to use the full form to maintain a formal tone.

may i have your ticket
Using have in the middle of a question.

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

When learning English grammar, it’s easy to get tripped up by have and has. Here are some common errors and how to avoid them:

  • Using has with plural subjects: A frequent mistake is using has for “you,” “we,” or “they.” Remember, has is only for singular third-person subjects. Correctly, it should be “You have,” “We have,” and “They have.”
  • Forgetting have in questions and negatives: In questions and negatives, some learners forget to switch to have with “do” or “does.” For example, “Does she has a pen?” should be “Does she have a pen?” Similarly, “She don’t have a pen” should be “She doesn’t have a pen.”

Usage in Formal vs. Informal English

The choice between have or has doesn’t change based on formality—what changes is how these words fit into sentences in different contexts. In formal writing, have and has are often part of more complex structures:

  • Formal: “The CEO has decided to implement new policies.” / “We have received your package.”
  • Informal: “He’s got a new plan.” / “We’ve got your essay.”

Formality can also influence the use of contractions. In formal contexts, it’s common to avoid contractions like “he’s” for “he has” or “we’ve” for “we have,” preferring the full forms instead.

what has happened
Using has in a question and have in the answer.

Advanced Tips for Using Has vs Have

In professional and academic writing, the precision and clarity of your message are paramount. Here are some tips for using have and has effectively:

  • Be Clear and Concise: Especially in academic writing, ensure that the use of have and has clearly conveys your intended meaning, particularly when forming complex tenses. E.g.: “The study has shown significant results.”
  • Avoid Ambiguity: In professional communication, use have and has to avoid vagueness. E.g.: “The department has completed all audits for the fiscal year.”

Advanced usage also involves leveraging has and have for nuanced expressions, such as in literature, where they might be used to convey subtleties of time, experience, or possession.


Pronunciation of has and have may seem straightforward, but there are nuances important for non-native speakers:

  • Have: Pronounced as /hæv/ in affirmative sentences but often changes in spoken English to /həv/ or even /əv/ when used as an auxiliary verb, particularly in contractions (e.g., “I’ve”).
  • Has: Pronounced as /hæz/, but like have, it can sound more like /həz/ or /əz/ in contractions (e.g., “She’s”).

Common Pitfalls:

  • Dropping the H sound at the beginning of has and have in rapid speech can confuse listeners, as it may sound too similar to other verbs or forms.
  • Overemphasizing the full pronunciation in informal contexts or contractions can make speech sound unnatural to native listeners.

Understanding these subtleties and practicing them can significantly improve comprehension and expression in English, making your pronunciation clearer and more natural.

i have an english exam tomorrow
“I have” example.

Have and Has as Auxiliary Verbs

Have and has are crucial as auxiliary verbs, especially in forming the present perfect tense.

This tense is used to describe actions or states that occurred at an unspecified time in the past and are relevant to the present.


  1. She has travelled to over 20 countries. (Here, has helps form the present perfect tense of “travel.”)
  2. He has completed an advanced course in graphic design. (Here, has is used to indicate he finished the course at some point in the past, and it’s relevant to his skills now.)
  3. John has written several articles for the school newspaper. (In this instance, has helps to convey that John undertook the action of writing articles, which impacts his current status or experience as a writer.)
  1. I have seen that movie twice. (In this case, have is used to indicate the experience of watching the movie occurred in the past but is relevant now.)
  2. We have visited the museum on multiple occasions. (This usage of have suggests that the experience of visiting the museum happened several times in the past and is significant to the present.)
  3. John and Emily have tried various cuisines from around the world. (Here, have is used to express that the action of trying different foods occurred over an unspecified period in the past, contributing to their culinary experiences up to now.)

Historical Context or Etymology

The verbs have and has come from a rich historical tapestry, tracing back to Old English “habban,” meaning to hold or possess. Over centuries, their forms and uses have morphed significantly:

  • Old English: In Old English, “habban” was versatile, much like today. Its forms changed with the subject, similar to how have and has differ in modern English.
  • Middle English: The transition to Middle English saw the verb evolve into “haven” or “habben,” with usage and conjugation patterns that started resembling today’s English more closely.
  • Modern English: The simplification of forms over time has led to the current distinction between have and has. The usage has also expanded from strictly denoting possession to include auxiliary functions in constructing various tenses.
to i have to
“Do I have to?” example.

Summary and Conclusion

Understanding and correctly using the commonly used verbs have and has are crucial for mastering English grammar. Remember:

  • Always use has with third person singular subjects he, she, it and have with I, you, we, they, and plural subjects.
  • Have and has are not only about possession but also form essential parts of various tenses and expressions.
  • Contractions with have and has can make your English sound more natural, especially in informal settings.

The journey to mastering these verbs involves practice and exposure. Try to notice how have and has are used in the content you read or listen to. Experiment with them in your daily conversations and written communications.

To clarify, the more you practice, the more confident you’ll become in using these verbs correctly, enhancing both your English comprehension and expression. 

Keep practicing, and don’t hesitate to review the rules whenever you need a refresher. Your efforts will undoubtedly pay off in your journey to fluency.

What is the basic grammar rule for choosing between 'have' and 'has'?

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

  1. What is the basic grammar rule for choosing between ‘have’ and ‘has’?

    The fundamental grammar rule is to use ‘has’ with a singular pronoun (he, she, it) and ‘have’ with I, you, we, they, and any plural pronouns.

  2. Is ‘have’ an irregular verb in English grammar?

    Yes, ‘have’ is considered an irregular verb because it does not follow the standard rules for verb conjugation in the past tense and past participle forms.

  3. How do I use ‘have’ and ‘has’ in the present perfect tense?

    In the present perfect tense, use ‘has’ with singular subjects and ‘have’ with plural subjects or the pronouns I, you, we, and they. The formula is ‘have/has’ + past participle of the main verb.

  4. What makes ‘have’ and ‘has’ challenging to learn in English grammar?

    The challenge often comes from their status as irregular verbs and understanding the correct tense and subject-verb agreement.

  5. Why is it important to know the pronoun before choosing ‘have’ or ‘has’?

    Knowing whether the pronoun is singular or plural helps determine the correct form of the verb to use, ensuring proper grammar and clarity in communication.

  6. Are there exceptions to using ‘have’ and ‘has’ in the past tense?

    In the past tense, ‘have’ and ‘has’ both become ‘had,’ regardless of the subject being singular or plural, simplifying their usage in the past tense.

  7. How does the role of ‘have’ and ‘has’ change when used as a main verb vs. an auxiliary verb?

    As a main verb, ‘have’ and ‘has’ denote possession. As auxiliary verbs, they help form complex tenses like the present perfect, indicating an action’s completion.

  8. Can ‘have’ and ‘has’ be used with all types of pronouns?

    ‘Have’ and ‘has’ can be used with personal pronouns, adjusting for singular or plural forms to maintain correct subject-verb agreement.

Have vs Has Exercises

  1. John ___ a new laptop that he uses for school. (have has)
  2. They ___ been waiting at the airport for over three hours. (have has)
  3. ___ you ever had a surprise birthday party thrown for you? (have has)
  4. The cat ___ finally eaten its meal after being picky all morning. (have has)
  5. We ___ a big project due next week, and we haven’t started. (have has)
  6. How long ___ she had her driving license? (have has)
  7. My brothers ___ always had a keen interest in astronomy. (have has)
  8. ___ it ___ any strange noises since we last checked? (have has)
  9. Sarah and Mike ___ decided to get married next summer. (have has)
  10. Who ___ the keys to the storage room? (have has)
  11. I ___ never ___ to Africa, but I plan to go next year. (have has)
  12. The museum ___ an extensive collection of ancient artefacts. (have has)
  13. You ___ been selected to represent our class at the conference. (have has)
  14. ___ the students had their essays submitted on time? (have has)
  15. Mrs. Thompson ___ a beautiful garden that she tends to every day. (have has)
  16. The children ___ been playing outside since it stopped raining. (have has)
  17. ___ Alex had a chance to speak with the manager yet? (have has)
  18. All the employees ___ received their bonuses for the year. (have has)
  19. Why ___ he had to leave the meeting early yesterday? (have has)
  20. She ___ not had any pets, but she’s considering adopting a cat. (have has)


  1. John has a new laptop that he uses for school.
  2. They have been waiting at the airport for over three hours.
  3. Have you ever had a surprise birthday party thrown for you?
  4. The cat has finally eaten its meal after being picky all morning.
  5. We have a big project due next week, and we haven’t started.
  6. How long has she had her driving license?
  7. My brothers have always had a keen interest in astronomy.
  8. Has it made any strange noises since we last checked?
  9. Sarah and Mike have decided to get married next summer.
  10. Who has the keys to the storage room?
  11. I have never been to Africa, but I plan to go next year.
  12. The museum has an extensive collection of ancient artefacts.
  13. You have been selected to represent our class at the conference.
  14. Have the students had their essays submitted on time?
  15. Mrs. Thompson has a beautiful garden that she tends to every day.
  16. The children have been playing outside since it stopped raining.
  17. Has Alex had a chance to speak with the manager yet?
  18. All the employees have received their bonuses for the year.
  19. Why has he had to leave the meeting early yesterday?
  20. She has not had any pets, but she’s considering adopting a cat.