In English, "have" is a verb with two grammatical functions. The first meaning is as a lexical verb, meaning it has a semantic meaning, although a very general one. In this sense, it denotes some form of possession or ownership, either of one object belonging to another, or of something having an attribute. "I have my watch" or "The ice cream has a creamy texture". The second meaning of "have" is as an auxiliary verb, a verb that serves a gramatical purpose. In this sense, it is used in the perfect tenses, to show a completed or permanent action. When "have" is used as an auxiliary verb, it always takes the participle form of the verb after it.

Although native speakers automatically know this, as they know all complicated grammar rules, it can be difficult for a non-native speaker. Some other languages with a perfect tense use a separate, non-lexical verb to form the perfect tense. Others use a form of what would translate as "to be". But because English uses "have" in both senses, we can have sentences like "I have had a horse" and even, ungracefully, "I had had a horse".

Also, there are a few unwritten rules about the differences in uses: for example, "have" as a perfect is contracted to the "I've" (I have) or "He's" (He has) forms. However, as a lexical verb, this is rare: while someone would naturally say "I've ridden a horse", they are less likely to say "I've a horse". There are also a few sentences in which the use of "have" could be either auxiliary or lexical. In "I have prepared papers", it could be either "I possess prepared papers" or "I have completed the task of preparing the papers". Grammar does not always have a perfect description of the way words are used.

Have (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Had (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Having. Indic. present, I have, thou hast, he has; we, ye, they have.] [OE. haven, habben, AS. habben (imperf. haefde, p. p. gehaefd); akin to OS. hebbian, D. hebben, OFries, hebba, OHG. habn, G. haben, Icel. hafa, Sw. hafva, Dan. have, Goth. haban, and prob. to L. habere, whence F. avoir. Cf. Able, Avoirdupois, Binnacle, Habit.]


To hold in possession or control; to own; as, he has a farm.


To possess, as something which appertains to, is connected with, or affects, one.

The earth hath bubbles, as the water has. Shak.

He had a fever late. Keats.


To accept possession of; to take or accept.

Break thy mind to me in broken English; wilt thou have me? Shak.


To get possession of; to obtain; to get.



To cause or procure to be; to effect; to exact; to desire; to require.

It had the church accurately described to me. Sir W. Scott.

Wouldst thou have me turn traitor also? Ld. Lytton.


To bear, as young; as, she has just had a child.


To hold, regard, or esteem.

Of them shall I be had in honor. 2 Sam. vi. 22.


To cause or force to go; to take. "The stars have us to bed." Herbert. "Have out all men from me." 2 Sam. xiii. 9.


To take or hold (one's self); to proceed promptly; -- used reflexively, often with ellipsis of the pronoun; as, to have after one; to have at one or at a thing, i. e., to aim at one or at a thing; to attack; to have with a companion.



To be under necessity or obligation; to be compelled; followed by an infinitive.

Science has, and will long have, to be a divider and a separatist. M. Arnold.

The laws of philology have to be established by external comparison and induction. Earle.


To understand.

You have me, have you not? Shak.


To put in an awkward position; to have the advantage of; as, that is where he had him.


Have, as an auxiliary verb, is used with the past participle to form preterit tenses; as, I have loved; I shall have eaten. Originally it was used only with the participle of transitive verbs, and denoted the possession of the object in the state indicated by the participle; as, I have conquered him, I have or hold him in a conquered state; but it has long since lost this independent significance, and is used with the participles both of transitive and intransitive verbs as a device for expressing past time. Had is used, especially in poetry, for would have or should have.

Myself for such a face had boldly died. Tennyson.

To have a care, to take care; to be on one's guard. -- To have (a man) out, to engage (one) in a duel. -- To have done (with). See under Do, v. i. -- To have it out, to speak freely; to bring an affair to a conclusion. -- To have on, to wear. -- To have to do with. See under Do, v. t.

Syn. -- To possess; to own. See Possess.


© Webster 1913.

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