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It seems to me that "we have" is an idiom.
I'd like to understand how "we have" is interpreted as "there is/are".

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't say it means "There is". "There is" only means that something exists somewhere. It doesn't give it a location.

I would say "What we have here..." means something closer to, "This...".

"This" has the meaning of "The thing here", which is just about the same as "What we have here...".


"There is" would suggest a distant relationship between the speaker and the concept. By using "What we have here..." the speaker emphasises their connection to the notion of "what pop could become"

Yes, it is idiomatic.

  • 1
    If my idiomatic you mean "using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker," then sure, but if you mean, "having a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word considered separately." Then I would disagree as what we have here utilizes only the normal meanings of the words separately. What: "the thing or things that" is a direct definition. We here could use the categorical or general definition depending on the context. And have is still the possessive... so it may be idiomatic in the first sense, but I don't think it's an idiom.
    – ttbek
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 10:37
  • It doesn't indicate literal possession, ownership, or holding onto, so it's not the usual meaning of "we have", and hence reasonable to call it an idiom. Although "have" has a lot of extended meanings in most dictionaries, so it's maybe a judgment call.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 12:06

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