As a non-native speaker, I grew up using does/do in forming questions in English. Such as this:

how much oxygen does he have?

Whereas, native English speakers usually form sentences in this way:

how much oxygen has he had?

Why is that? Do they have any differences?

  • the first is correct the second nope ok I am not native speaker but grammatic is more correct the first expression
    – simon
    Dec 17, 2018 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


Your two questions talk about different things. The first talks about the present, the second talks about the past.

Imagine an astronaut named Major Tom has a malfunctioning spacecraft. One of the technicians might ask:

How much oxygen does he have?

In my particular context, that means: How much oxygen is in his spacecraft, and how long can he be expected to live on that oxygen? A valid answer might be, "About 12 hours' worth."

Your second question asks about how much oxygen someone has been given. Perhaps a patient is undergoing oxygen therapy; a doctor might come in the room and ask:

How much oxygen has he had?

The answer might be "He's had 75 liters."

Both questions are valid. You would use the first one when you are asking about a current quantity. As another example, suppose we were going on a scuba diving trip. I might ask, "How much oxygen does he have?" and you might answer, "He has four tanks." The second talks about how much oxygen has been used during some specified time up until the present.

If we change oxygen to sandwiches, suppose we are going on a picnic.

How many sandwiches does he have?

asks about the number of sandwiches that have been packed inside his picnic basket, but:

How many sandwiches has he had?

asks about how many sandwiches he has eaten.

  • Hello there, thx for the answer, but it still not clear. When you say "how much oxygen has he had" (as you said, the amount it was given) then why they didn't just say "how much oxygen he has been given" instead then?
    – John Arvin
    Dec 18, 2018 at 5:27
  • @JohnArvin - Those are just two ways of asking pretty much the same thing. One doesn't sound any more "right" or "wrong" than the other.
    – J.R.
    Dec 18, 2018 at 15:03

J.R. is essentially correct, but to perhaps make it more explicit:

  • "does he have?" = How much remains from an original supply
  • "has he had?" = How much has he consumed to this point

So they really cover two sides of the same coin.

How much oxygen has he had? -About 75% of a tank.
How much oxygen does he have? -About 25% (left in the tank).

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