Have and Have Got for Beginners

Beginner's English: Have, Have got

Have and Have Got

Students of English will eventually both 'have' and 'have got' to express possession. Both forms can express what we own, but also the relationships we have. For example, I have / have got a car and a father. Beginning level students should also know that 'have' is preferred in US English, and 'have got' is much more common in British English. Finally, the fact that US English often uses 'gotten' as the participle for various verbs including phrasal verbs with get, but will also use 'have got' when expressing possession can further confuse students.

This guide provides examples of the various uses of both forms.

The differences between 'have' and 'have got' can be confusing for beginners. Here is a guide the two forms. When you finish reviewing try the 'Have / Have got' Quiz to check your understanding.

Remember these important points:

  • 'Have' and 'Have got' are used for possession.

    Example: Jack has got a beautiful house. OR Jack has a beautiful house.

  • Only 'have' is used when talking about actions.

    Example: I usually have breakfast at 8 o'clock. NOT I usually have got breakfast at 8 o'clock.

  • The question form for 'have' follows regular present simple:

    Example: Do you have a fast car? NOT Have you a fast car?

  • 'Have' and 'Have got' are only used in the present simple. Use 'have' for the past simple or future forms.

    Example: She had a copy of that book.

  • There is no contracted form for 'Have' in the positive form. The contracted form is used for 'have got'

    Example: I have a red bicycle. OR I've got a red bicycle. NOT I've a red bicycle.

    Here is a grammar chart showing the construction of the two forms:

    Positive I, You, We, They HAVE GOT
    Subject + have + got + objects
    They have got a new car. Contracted: They've got a new car.

    Positive He, She, It HAVE GOT
    Subject + has + got + objects
    He has got a new car. Contracted: He's got a new car.

    Positive I, You, We, They HAVE
    Subject + have + objects
    They have a new car. There is no contracted form

    Positive He, She, It HAVE
    Subject + have + objects
    She has a new car. There is no contracted form

    Question I, You, We, They HAVE GOT
    (?) + have + subject + got?
    How many children have you got? There is no contracted form

    Question He, She, It HAVE GOT
    (?) + has + subject + got?
    How many children has he got? There is no contracted form

    Question I, You, We, They HAVE
    (?) + do + subject + have?
    How many children do you have? There is no contracted form

    Question He, She, It HAVE
    (?) + does + subject + have?
    How many children does he have? There is no contracted form

    Negative I, You, We, They HAVE GOT
    Subject + have + not + got + objects
    We have not got a dog. Contraction: We haven't got a dog.

    Negative He, She, It HAVE GOT
    Subject + has + not + got + objects
    She has not got a dog. Contraction: She hasn't got a dog.

    Negative I, You, We, They HAVE
    Subject + do + not + have + objects
    They do not have a dog. Contraction: They don't have a dog.

    Negative He, She, It HAVE GOT
    Subject + does + not + have + objects
    She does not have a dog. Contraction: She doesn't have a dog.

    Check your understanding with this Have / Have Got Quiz