Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

I am very much confused with the usage of Have-Had-Has.I know Have is used in Present perfect whereas Had is used in past perfect. Then what about the usage of Have Had combination in a sentence.

Where I ahave to use them?

How I know whether my usage is correct or not?

Please Help. Thanks!

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Maulik V, jimsug, snailboat, Em1, Kinzle B May 26 at 15:53

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1  
@MaulikV I think OP has a more fundamental confusion, between auxiliary and lexical HAVE, which needs to be addressed. I am for keeping the question open. –  StoneyB May 26 at 12:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think what is confusing you is that HAVE may be used in two different roles:

  • as a lexical (‘main’) verb, in a variety of senses:

    I have two cats. ... Here have means ‘possess’.
    I have a system for feeding my cats. ... Here have means ‘maintain’.
    I have Bob feed my cats when I am away. ... Here have means ‘cause’ somebody ‘to’ do something.

    These are only a sample; there are many other senses for lexical HAVE.

  • as an auxiliary (‘helping’) verb, in perfect constructions:

    I have fed my cats. ... Here have combines with the past participle of the lexical verb feed to form a present perfect construction.

    The perfect may also appear in other tenses, and in tenseless constructions, and in combination with progressive and passive constructions.

    I had fed my cats. ... past perfect
    I will have fed my cats. ... future perfect
    My cats have been fed. ... present perfect passive
    I have been feeding my cats. ... present perfect progressive
    My cats have been being fed. ... present perfect progressive passive
    I want to have fed my cats by 5 o’clock. ... infinitive perfect
    Having fed my cats, I will make my own dinner. ... participial perfect

    ... and so forth. There is a lot more about perfect constructions at What is the perfect, and how should I use it?.

The have had construction you ask about employs HAVE in both roles, auxiliary and lexical, in the same sentence.

I have had many cats over the last fifty years.
I have had Bob feed my cats in the past, but now Lucy feeds them.

In these two sentences, the first HAVE form, have, is an auxiliary, but the second, had, is lexical HAVE, cast as a past participle, just like fed in the previous examples.

share|improve this answer

has and have

has and have, when used alone, are both used to describe a recurrent state of possession, or participation:

  • I have a conversation with my mother every morning.
  • She has a conversation with her mother every morning.

  • I have dark hair.

  • She has dark hair.

  • I have black shoes.

  • She has black shoes.

When deciding whether to use has or have:

  • has is used only with a third- person subject: that is, you, he, she, it, or any named subject (John, Australia, the Queen)

  • have is used only with a first- or second- person subject: that is, I or you.


have/has had

have had and has had are used, as noted by Veronica Diamond in her answer (which has now been deleted), to describe something that has happened in the past.

The technical term for this is the present perfect. In perfect is a technical term meaning completed, and so it roughly means: something that has been completed - now.

As mentioned by StoneyB, in this form, have is a auxiliary ("helping") verb, which temporally "sets" the time for the main verb, which can be any verb, not just "have".

This may take the form of a circumstance of time that links it to the present:

  • They have had three exams in the last week
  • She has had three exams in the last week

However, this circumstance is not obligatory:

  • I have had dinner at that restaurant a dozen times.
  • She has had dinner at that restaurant a dozen times.

In the examples above, I (or she) could have had dinner at the restaurant a dozen times fifty years ago, or in the last year. But it's not necessary to provide a timespan.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.