I've seen it on TV that a guy asking another man, "have you a map?"

If I were him, I would probably say, "do you have a map?"

I would like to know what grammatical rules it followed in this case.

  • I believe that Spanish often places the subject after the verb to indicate a question. This may be similar. – shawnt00 Aug 25 '16 at 18:26
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    Note also "Have you a map" can be a command, although it's probably dialectal. – Alan Carmack Aug 26 '16 at 2:48
  • @BillJ If you want to leave an answer in a comment to help someone before there are other answers, that's great, but you shouldn't expect them to persist above all of the answers that can get properly vetted by the community. I know this is different from EL&U, but the target audience there is much more fluent and can quickly read through a lot of comments. That's not the case on ELL. – ColleenV parted ways Dec 31 '17 at 12:46

The most common form of the question, in both British and American dialects is "Do you have..."

Using "Have you" is a non-typical use. It sounds old fashioned. For example there is a nursery rhyme which goes:

Baa baa black sheep,
Have you any wool?

There is a similar form "Have you got a map". This is quite common in some British dialects, but is frowned on by some teachers.

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    in fact I've heard the phrase from the movie pirates of the caribbean where the british majesty asking jack if he has a map. I wonder if this british dialect is/was merely used in the royalty. – Will Aug 26 '16 at 14:10
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    Well PotC is not an accurate guide to mid 17th century English dialects. Instead it is using an old fashioned form of English to sound distinctive and odd. The King at the time (George II) only spoke English as a third language, but I don't think this is significant. – James K Aug 26 '16 at 14:35
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    Fifty years ago "Do you have?" was rare in BrE, and would only be used ina habitual sense. the normal form was "Have you got?", but in a more formal register "Have you". (I remember a children's English book that described "got" as like a weed in the garden). During my lifetime, "Do you have" has spread from North America. – Colin Fine Oct 18 '17 at 23:03

The syntax of

have you something?

gets used in BrE and possibly formal and literature situations.

It is a direct syntax copy from the French

avez vous?

Many things French had great influence on the English as they are neighbours.

A couple contemporary examples of the phrase which are often used

Have you any thoughts...
Do you have an opinion about...

Have you got the time?
Do you know what time it is

Other equivalents "have you" might be

Do you have?
Would you have?
Might you have? (BrE)

  • The Norman rule of England established French as the language of the "elites," and of the court, courts, and commerce in England. This was not seen as particularly neighborly at the time, and it may account for many borrowings from the French language, although I'm not sure your example is one of them. – P. E. Dant Aug 25 '16 at 19:46
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    I think it is more likely to be a hangover from Middle English, which used verb-subject inversions for all questions ("does he eat" = "eteth he", not "doth he eteth") nativlang.com/middle-english/middle-english-grammar.php – James K Aug 25 '16 at 21:43
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    Maybe I'm misreading your answer, but I don't see how 'have you thought about' is an example? Surely the 'have' is here simply an auxiliary, with inversion for the question. Statement: I have thought about it. Question: have you thought about it? An example would be, 'have you a/any thought(s) on the matter?' – Au101 Aug 26 '16 at 3:33
  • Do you have some evidence that "have you thought..." is not just the perfect tense? – The Photon Aug 26 '16 at 4:52
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    "Have you got the time" is not the same construction as "have you any thoughts" or the sentence in the OP. The "have" here is an an auxiliary verb and does not indicate possession, though "have got" is idiomatic for possession. Also, is this equivalent to "do you know what time it is" or can it mean "do you have available time"? – laugh Aug 27 '16 at 9:07

This form of question is using non-auxiliary "have" with an auxiliary verb syntax. It is somewhat dated, but is still used in some occasions, mainly in formal speech. A well-known example is the phrase "Have you the ring?" used in wedding ceremonies. It is also more common in some dialects.

According to Google ngrams, this form was dominant in writing in the past. "Do you have" became dominant very quickly since the early 20th century.

  • That ngram chart is quite dramatic. – James K Aug 27 '16 at 9:30

Both are correct except no. 2 is a little more old-fashioned or fancy because it doesn't use the auxiliary "Do". I disagree somewhat with BillJ insofar as I do not think "Have" is acting as an auxiliary verb in your example above; I just believe the writer is using an old-fashioned way of forming a question by way of inversion without the periphrastic "Do":

"How much spent he?" = "How much did he spend?"

"How much knows he?" = "How much does he know?"

I would agree with BillJ that "Have" is acting as an auxiliary verb if it were written in question form using the present perfect:

"Have you ever had an English book?"

In this instance, one could not use a periphrastic "Do" since the present perfect construction already uses an auxiliary verb in "Have", but that's not the case in, "Have you an English book?", wherein it is clear that it is merely inversion of a lexical verb to form a question—a process that is a wee bit outmoded these days, but is still used from time to time, particularly with the verb "Have" as used in the question above.

I hope that might have helped you out. Take care and good luck!

  • And in spoken AE you are quite likely to hear, "You have an English book?" No need for the 'do'. – EllieK Dec 29 '17 at 19:55
  • This is true, especially in informal speech. – Nick Dec 29 '17 at 19:58
  • Of course "have" is acting as an auxiliary in "Have you an English book? Whatever the pragmatics, the absence of do support is sufficient evidence to prove that the verb is being used as an auxiliary. Your example "Have you ever had an English book?" is irrelevant, since "have" is always an auxiliary verb in the perfect, as evidenced by the impossibility of do support. – BillJ Dec 30 '17 at 8:45
  • It's not acting as an auxiliary verb. The word "auxiliary" means "helping" verb in essence. "Have" is not helping any other verb there. In, "I should do this," "should" is an auxiliary verb because it's helping "do". In, "Have you an English book?", there's no other verb but "Have"; therefore, it's not an auxiliary verb. It's equivalent to my saying, "Gets he the difference between lexical and auxiliary verbs?" when I could just say, "Does he get the difference between lexical and auxiliary verbs?" thefreedictionary.com/auxiliary+verb. – Nick Dec 30 '17 at 17:21
  • Let's dispense with Mickey Mouse terms like "helping verb", shall we?You're missing the point about auxiliary verbs. If a verb does not require do -support to form an interrogative, then it is an auxiliary - that is the acid test for aux vs lexical status here. The fact that it is the only verb in "Have you an English book? is irrelevant, as evidenced by the fact that "be" is always an auxiliary even when it is the only verb in the clause. And your example with "gets" is also irrelevant, since unlike "have" and "be" it always requires do - support and thus can only be lexical. – BillJ Dec 31 '17 at 8:53

There are two forms to express possession in English. Have or Have got Do you have a car? Have you got a car? He hasn't got any friends. He doesn't have any friends. She has a beautiful new home. She's got a beautiful new home.

While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn't got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn't have etc.)

Have you got a map? = Have you a map?


"Have you a map?"

This is an example of subject-verb inversion that was more common in older forms of English than it is today. I still sometimes say,

"Have you the time?"

to mean,

"Do you have the time?"

but many people in Modern English find it stuffy or pedantic or archaic. Last week, I said to my brother in a text message,

"What said he?"

to mean,

"What did he say?"

I was being lazy and didn't want to type out the periphrastic way that we write it now, but it caused confusion because my brother replied, "Huh?" I just rolled my eyes and typed it the normal way for him.

We still see this subject-verb inversion in questions when people say,

"What say you?"

to mean,

"What do you say?"

In French, this is also pretty old-fashioned, but still heard from time to time?

"Que sais-tu?" ("What knowest thou?"/"What know you?")

"Qu'est-ce que tu sais?" ("What dost thou know?"/"What do you know?")

I use "thou" above to show that the French that I'm using is in the second-person singular form of English "you" and not the plural "you". Also, these inversions were more common during Shakespeare's time when the pronoun "thou" was prevalent in speech still, so one would hear, "What knowest thou?" way more often than a periphrastic form using "do/did" in questions. Notice that the French have gone to a periphrastic form as well. For instances:

"Qu'est-ce que tu sais?"

(literal translation: "What is it that thou knowest?" or "What is it that you know?")

As you can see, this is relative to our periphrastic "do/did" in questions.

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