I can't understand why my grammar book use the "have" verb at some situations like

She had a coffee

She was having breakfast

Instead of

She drank a coffee

She was eating breakfast

I think the "have" verb is a general auxiliary verb which can fit with many predicate words. I might to know which of these will be better to use in certain situations.


Your book is showing you how many people actually speak.

Especially in spoken English, we find that people will use a general verb like "have" even when a more specific one is possible. This is true particularly when the specific meaning is understood from the noun. It is also useful for, for example, "I had toast and a coffee" (instead of "I ate toast and drank a coffee")

In written English authors try to use more expressive language: "I had breakfast" could be better expressed as "I ate breakfast" or "I enjoyed breakfast" or "I grabbed breakfast". In careful writing, a more specific word is usually preferred.


Your question asks if it is wrong to use more specific verbs rather than 'have'. The answer is no, it isn't wrong, but in many cases it is not natural sounding. English has many verbs which can be considered 'multi-purpose'. 'Have' is one of these verbs. As a multi-purpose verb it can be used for different grammatical structures, set phrases and idiomatic meanings. If you want to sound natural, rather than sounding like someone who is translating, I suggest you try to use 'have' the way a native speaker would. This link has many good expressions and if you scroll down you'll also see some grammar structures. free dictionary-have

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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