I'm having slight difficulties with a particular kind of sentences. I'd like you to check on my interpretation of differences occuring in the following sentences:

A1. They're just a bunch of guys having too much free time

A2. They're just a bunch of guys who are having too much free time

A3. They're just a bunch of guys who have too much free time.

B1. She's the one paying for our trips.

B2. She's the one who is paying for our trips.

B3. She's the one who pays for our trips.

C1. I have a thing for girls wearing glasses.

C2. I have a thing for girls who are wearing glasses.

C3. I have a thing for girls who wear glasses.

While the difference between C examples is quite evident for me, as to me it expresses the state of being that is more established, and might refer to habitual behaviors (these guys might be unemployed, wasting their life away, thus they have too much free time), I'm not sure if the main difference between A and B examples is simply the contraction of the A ones? If so, does that mean that As may be regarded as more colloquial than Bs? Or perhaps it is perfectly fine to use them interchangeably?

Am I right? Are all these sequences correct?

I also have to note that it was pointed out to me that one can't use the verb "to have" in the continuous form in the first set of examples, though I'm not sure why. I believe it doesn't imply possession the same way "having fun" doesn't.

  • A3 is good, but if you change "free time" to "fun", then A1 and A2 are okay: They're just a bunch of guys having too much fun.
    – J.R.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 16:40
  • 2
    Have free time is stative and yes, it's thought of as expressing possession, which we can see if we look at examples like "He has a lot of free time on his hands". Have fun is generally dynamic, which is why it readily appears in the progressive.
    – user230
    Apr 17, 2015 at 21:45

1 Answer 1


From an American English perspective:

C1 and C2. You have a glasses fetish. :-)
C3. There's something about girls who wear glasses which you like.

All three of the B's are idiomatic.

A1 and A2 are to my ear unidiomatic. They sound like Indian English to me.

A3 is fine.

Have is already doubly continuative

  1. they possess (meaning-wise)

  2. Their general ongoing state of affairs is to have excess time (tense-wise)

    so continous "having" sounds pleonastic, except when you are having fun, or are having a hard time of it, in which case "having" means "experiencing" with the implication of "for a temporary duration", whereas "possessing-having" seems permanent.

  • But is there any difference between 1s and 2s? Does one sound more formal than the other? And, if I changed "free time" to, previously mentioned, "fun", it wouldn't sound like Indian English anymore to say "(...) guys having a lot of fun", right?
    – Bebop B.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 15:42
  • When talking about a glasses fetish, try using an "8" or "B" instead of a colon in your emoticon, like this: You have a glasses fetish B-). Much more appropriate, don't you think?
    – J.R.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 16:30
  • +1. Note that for A, you can also write "They're just a bunch of guys with too much free time."
    – ruakh
    Apr 17, 2015 at 18:15
  • @ruakh as in C, you could write "I have a thing for girls with glasses." Apr 17, 2015 at 19:23
  • @GalacticCowboy: Yes, but I think that's a coincidence; you can generally always use "with" in place of "who have/has/had/etc.", but I think the only reason you can say "girls with glasses" is that you can also say "girls who have glasses".
    – ruakh
    Apr 17, 2015 at 20:08

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