Table of Contents
Don’t shoot the messenger, but English has various versions of the same verb that differ based on the grammatical context. A great example of this are the two commonly confused words have and has.
If you struggle to understand how to use these words correctly, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you understand everything you need to know about them, including a foolproof way to ensure you never use them incorrectly again.
When To Use “Have”
The verb to have has several definitions, but it usually means “to possess, own, or hold something.” In other words, the word have indicates possession.
I have the car keys.
I am in possession of the car keys.
Have expresses possession in the present tense when using the singular first-person (I, we) and second-person (you) point of view, as well as the plural third-person (they).
I have a headache, so I will take some medicine.
We have the same middle name and the same birthday.
You have a ladybug on your shirt.
They have a decal of their favorite team on their car.
It’s important to note that you all is considered plural. In this case, have is still the correct form to use.
You all have a guilty look on your faces.
When To Use “Has”
Has is the conjugated form of to have, which indicates possession in the present tense but is used with the singular third-person perspective (he, she, it).
Using “Has” With the Third-Person Singular: Example Sentences
He has a birthmark on his cheek.
She has a pink tutu that she wants to wear during the recital.
I love my car. It has many cool features, but my favorite is the virtual rearview mirror.
The simplest use of have and has is to indicate possession in the present tense. Below, we’ll get into slightly more complex ways of using them with other words.
Using “Has” or “Have” To Indicate Possibility
Have and has can be used with other verbs to indicate something that hasn’t happened yet. The formula for this type of sentence is:
[subject] + [have/has] + [“to” infinitive form of the verb] + [complement]
I have to study if I want to pass the exam.
She has to stretch before working out to avoid getting sore.
In the sentences above, the actions haven’t occurred yet, but they might. The same rules apply for have and has when employed in this manner: use have with I, you, we, and they, and has with she, he, and it.
I have to wake up early tomorrow morning.
You have to see the size of the TV they just bought!
We have to get there by 9 A.M.
They have to turn off the lights at a specific time.
She has to fill out the entire application.
He has to perform a dance that he does not know very well.
It has to rain soon, or the crops will die out.
Using “Has” or “Have” as Helping Verbs To Indicate a Completed Action
Have and has are also used with other verbs in the present perfect tense to indicate a completed action. The formula for this type of sentence is:
[subject] + [have/has] + [past participle of the main verb] + [rest of the sentence]
I have danced to this song many times before.
In the sentence above, have is used as the helping verb and danced is used as the main verb. This sentence expresses that the subject “I” started and completed the verb “dance” at some point in the past.
It should be noted that this type of sentence also works with had, which is the past tense form and past participle of the verb to have.
I had silenced my phone way before you called me.
Here are a few more examples of using have and had to indicate a completed action.
She has finished all her training.
I have read that book already.
My dad and I have seen that movie.
It has broken a few times before.
How To Always Use “Have” and “Has” Correctly
The most important thing to remember is that has is only used for the third-person singular. Have is used in every other case.
Things start getting a little more complicated when you want to use these two words to indicate a possibility or an action that has already happened. However, with enough practice, you’ll be able to learn how to use have and has correctly.
If you need extra help while you familiarize yourself with these words, LanguageTool can assist by ensuring the proper use of have and has in all cases. This multilingual writing assistant can also paraphrase your sentences to suit your audience, keep track of your writing productivity, and provide suggestions based on the type of text you’re working on.
What have you got to lose? Give it a try, and start writing like a pro today!