How to use "Having" in English. I have come across below statement.

The customer having left, the criminal takes out a pin from his purse and scrapes off hardened glue from the edges of the keys.

Here if I say:

Once customer left ATM......


After Customer leaving ATM......

is it correct?

Please explain to me about proper use of Having

I am having food (consumption)
I am having a baby (pregnancy)
I am having fun (desired experience)
I am having sex (desired experience)
Having said that....
I am having a headache
She was having a dream

  • 1
    Explaining the proper use of having is probably too hard to do with one answer. There are simply too many ways the word can be used to explain them all here. I will leave this question, open, though because you've asked about, "The customer, having left the ATM..." (which could be rephrased as, "After the customer has left the ATM...")
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:36
  • See also: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/17110/… Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


Let me try this way... I split your sentence into two parts: The customer has left. The criminal takes out a pin from his purse... The first sentence needs to be in present perfect tense because its effects prevail when the second sentence happens. When we join the sentences into one, we therefore have to use the present perfect participle form of 'has left', which makes it 'having left'.

This use of 'having' is just the tip of the iceberg though. There are many other ways in which it is used. I am only being specific to the example you have given.


Having when used with past participle here means that process is done. That's one of the uses of the word 'have'. It simply means 'have something done'.

23) Have - (used with a past participle) have something done to cause something to be done for you by somebody else.

Note that here, leaving of that premises causes something to happen (stealing the PIN probably).

Here, it means that once the customer left, some action is triggered.

Having something done is different from using the word 'having' in normal context. Having shows possession/having something whereas 'Having something done' means what I describe from the dictionary.

Further read about have here.

These all mean possession/owning/having something

a) I'm having food - You are consuming food.
b) I am having a baby - You have pregnancy.
c) I am having fun - You are enjoying as desired experience.
d) I am having sex - You are (currently) indulged in sexual activity
e) Having said that - This means....
f) I am having a headache - I'm suffering from headache
g) She was having a dream - She was having a dream! (i.e. that time in past)

  • 4
    Oh, no, not: "You have pregnancy", but "You are pregnant." And that's not possession and ownership. I think you need to do a better job here of catagorizing these samples, rather than merely stating: "These all mean possession/owning/having something." I can have a car in my garage, a hole in my pocket, supper on the table, a headache, and an errand to run, and those are DIFFERENT uses of the word (hence the 33 definitions found here).
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:28
  • 3
    Moreover, I like the definition at Collins (#22) better than the one you have provided here: (takes a past participle) used as an auxiliary to form compound tenses expressing completed action ⇒ I have gone.... (There's really no "cause" here; the customer simply walks away.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:42
  • 2
    And the short answer is that “The customer having left” is the same construction as “Having said that”. “The customer having left” = “After the customer left [or had left]”. “Having said that” = “After I said that”. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 21:41

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