As a teacher in Germany we teach the rule that relative clauses can be shortened using participles (e.g. "The car driving along the road was blue." as opposed to "The car which was driving along the road was blue.") Twice I have encountered sentences shortened which are simply wrong and I cannot explain why, they always have to do with the verb have (got): who can help? "The girl having brown hair is very tall" is wrong so "The girl who has brown hair is tall" cannot be shortened???? Similarly I encountered the following task in a school textbook which to my ears sounds at least odd if not wrong: "Try to find words having to do with the topic" meaning "Try to find words which have to do with the topic"Is the verb have (got) an exception??? Thanks for any qualified help!

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    If you "shorten" a relative clause, the result is not some hybrid or "reduced" clause at all, but a different construction. In "The car driving along the road was blue", the element in bold is a non-finite (gerund-participial) clause as modifier, whereas relatives are (usually) finite. Semantically, though, it is similar to the relative "The car which was driving ...". The present participle “having” is used with progressive aspectuality implying a temporary state and cannot normally be used with the sense of physical possession. You can’t say that someone is having blue eyes.
    – BillJ
    Mar 5, 2017 at 11:36
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    @BillJ shouldn't that be a full answer? Mar 5, 2017 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


Maybe it's because "have" can't be used in the continuous form when talking about possession, but I'm not sure.

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