ESL Lesson Plan: How to Use "Have"


Hero Images/Getty Images

The multiple uses of the verb "have" can be confusing at times for students. This lesson provides a variety of exercises to help students learn the subtle differences between the use of "have" as a helping verb, as the main verb, as a modal with "have to," as a possessive with "have got," as well as when used as a causative verb. Ideally, students know a wide range of these uses, so the lesson is aimed at intermediate to high intermediate level classes. If you're teaching a lower level class, it's best to leave out a few uses of have such as the causative and "had had" in the past perfect. 

  • Aim: Help students recognize the wide range of uses for the verb "have."
  • Activity: Classroom discussion followed by identification activity
  • Level: Upper-intermediate


  • Start a conversation with the class by using some questions with 'have' such as: Have you had a good day? Do you have to come to school every day? Have you ever had your car washed? Do you have any brothers and sisters?
  • Once you've had a short round of question and answer, ask students to repeat back some of the questions you've asked. 
  • Write the various questions up on the board. Ask students what the difference in usage of the verb "have" can be found in each question. 
  • Provide a further explanation for the various forms of "have" as questions arise.
  • Pass out the activity on "have" usage provided below. 
  • Ask students to identify each use of "have" based on the key included with the worksheet.
  • Once students finish, have them pair up and check their answers. Have students explain their choices to each other in the case of disagreement.
  • Correct worksheet as a class.

Uses of Have Review Sheet

Use "have" as a helping verb in perfect tenses and perfect continuous tenses. These include:

  • Present Perfect: She has lived in Canada for ten years.
  • Present Perfect Continuous: They've been working for more than ten hours.
  • Past Perfect: Jennifer had already eaten by the time Peter arrived.
  • Past Perfect Continuous: They had been waiting for two hours by the time the concert began.
  • Future Perfect: I will have finished the report by Friday.
  • Future Perfect Continuous: My friends will have been studying for ten hours straight by the time he takes the test.

Use "have" for possession.

  • I have two cars.
  • Omar has two brothers and three sisters.

Use "have got" for possession. This form is more common in the UK.

  • He has got a house in Miami.
  • They've bot two children.

Use "have" as the main verb to expression actions such as "have a bath," "have a good time" and with meals "have breakfast/lunch/dinner." 

  • We had a great time last week.
  • Let's have breakfast soon.

Use "have" as a causative verb to express that you ask someone else to do something for you.

  • We had our house painted last week.
  • The children are going to have their teeth examined next week.

Use "have to" as a modal verb to express an obligation, often to express a work routine:

  • I have to drive to work every morning.
  • She has to wear a uniform to work. 

Identify the Use of "Have"

Use the following letters to explain the use of "have" in each of the sentences. Be careful! Some of the sentences use "have" twice, identify each of the uses.

  • "Have" as helping verb = HH
  • "Have" as possession = HP
  • "Have" as main action = HA
  • "Have" as a causative verb = HC
  • "Have" as modal = HM
  1. Did you have to work late last week?
  2. He's had enough time to finish the report.
  3. I think you should have your car washed.
  4. Have you got any friends in Dallas?
  5. I hadn't read the report he asked me about.
  6. They had a great time at the party.
  7. My sister had the party catered by her favorite restaurant.
  8. I'm afraid I have to go.
  9. She doesn't have enough experience for the position.
  10. I think I'll have a bath as soon as I get home. 


  1. HM
  2. HH / HA
  3. HC
  4. HH
  5. HA
  6. HC
  7. HM
  8. HP
  9. HA
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "ESL Lesson Plan: How to Use "Have"." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Beare, Kenneth. (2023, April 5). ESL Lesson Plan: How to Use "Have". Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "ESL Lesson Plan: How to Use "Have"." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).