A teacher passed out pencils to all the students in the class and said, "Has everyone got a pencil?"

The students answered,

(a) I have a pencil.

(b) I have got a pencil.

(c) I have one in my hand.

(d) I having a pencil.

Is the usage of have in these sentences technically correct?

6 Answers 6


Apart from the sentence (d), all the sentences are correct grammatically.

However, the answers (a) and (b) are most appropriate in the context of the question asked. You can reply either I have or I have got a pencil.

  • 1
    You bring up some interesting points from a grammatical perspective; however, I think you're overanalyzing a bit. Pragmatically, in a classroom, a teacher may ask, "Does everyone have a pencil," without expecting one student to answer for all. In fact, the only responses a teacher might expect would be negative responses. So: Teacher, to a class of 23: "Does everyone have a pencil?" Joey answers, "I don't have one." Micah answers, "I don't have one, either." Everyone else remains silent. That could easily be how this plays out. Also, students would say, "I have a pencil," not "the pencil."
    – J.R.
    Nov 12, 2014 at 21:43
  • J.R. I appreciate your comments. I will edit my answer. Thanks.
    – Khan
    Nov 13, 2014 at 0:00
  • RE: Americans tend to use the past simple instead of the present perfect such as "Did everyone get a pencil?" Hmm. Did everyone get a pencil? is what I would ask if I just handed out pencils in class. Has everyone got a pencil? is what I might ask if I expected each student to bring their own pencil. I don't think they're necessarily the same question – at least, I have a hard time imagining myself using the did version when I've expected them all to bring their own, although, in that case, I might ask, "Did everyone bring a pencil?"
    – J.R.
    Nov 13, 2014 at 9:46
  • J.R. Sir, you are right. I think the problem is because of difference in BE and AE in regard to the use of the present perfect and the past simple. I usually read British grammar books. Thanks.
    – Khan
    Nov 14, 2014 at 5:21

Answer (a) answers the question directly and is grammatically correct.

Answer (b) is more informal. It passes in conversation but I would not recommend that wording in a more formal document, unless it was a quotation. Max's answer explains why.

Answer (c) is also grammatically correct; it merely adds some information that wasn't initially requested.

Answer (d) is incorrect, because the verb is wrong. We do not say, "I having" anything. We might say "I am having" something, (such as, "I am having a party tomorrow," or "I am having a fit right now"), but I can think of no context where "I having" would be grammatically correct.

Incidentally, have is a very tricky word, as you might have noticed. It can mean own, or have in one's possession (as in, "I have a pencil"), but the word can be used in a host of other ways, too:

  • I have an appointment
  • I have a toothache
  • I have an idea
  • I have a new girlfriend
  • I have a new roof on my house
  • I have all my luggage packed
  • I have my hair cut at the salon
  • I have something I need to do tomorrow
  • I have coffee in the morning
  • I have a knack for finding good deals
  • I have a lot of patience when it comes to answering questions

(All of those have shifted away from the notion of ownership or possession to some degree or another.)


When we are talking about possession, relationships, illnesses and characteristics of people or things we can use either have or have got. The have got forms are more common in an informal style.

Have got has the same meaning as have and both are used as present tenses. Note that have got is NOT the present perfect of get.

From: BBC Learn English

So the answer to the question is yes.


In this case, "have got" is grammatical but redundant, since it means exactly the same as "have". But, despite the redundancy, lots of people would say "I have got a pencil" and it's not at all wrong.

One case where "have got" is useful is when contradicting a negative. If the teacher looks accusingly at you and says, "You don't have a pencil, do you?", you can show him or her your pencil and reply, "I have got a pencil!" In that case, the emphatic "have got" is more natural than just saying "I have a pencil."

  • 3
    "I do have a pencil is also emphatic.
    – tunny
    Nov 12, 2014 at 20:47

The first three sentences are grammatically correct. The fourth is not.


Time to get a new teacher. The question is poorly worded. "Does everyone have a pencil?" Or, "Did everyone get a pencil?" "Does anyone not have a pencil," would be easier to answer than leaving the student wondering, "Do I answer for myself or for the whole class?" "Has everyone gotten a pencil," would be grammatically correct, but still colloquial. Avoid the word, got, to indicate possession. An exception would be a baseball outfielder shouting, "I've got it." The statement needs to be short & to the point before the ball lands on the ground, or the players collide.

  • 1
    In this example, the teacher is doing a poor job of modelling Standard English. On the other hand, her question is easily understood by native English speakers. (It is easier to understand than "Has everyone gotten a pencil.") Thus, "Time to get a new teacher" is a gross exaggeration.
    – Jasper
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:35
  • @Jasper You're right. Anyway, I'm not sure. Gotten might be archaic. The current conjugation could be get, got, got (instead of gotten). English would be difficult enough for the new learner even if the rules didn't keep changing.
    – JimM
    Nov 13, 2014 at 13:28
  • Just checked. Both conjugations are correct, but 'have got' is the preferred usage.
    – JimM
    Nov 13, 2014 at 13:32

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