Verb forms of ‘to have’ in the present simple

(Conjugation and formation of ‘to have’ in the present simple)

Formation of ‘to have’ in the present simple

The verb ‘to have’ is conjugated irregularly. It has, therefore, two distinct verb forms in the present simple and can be used as an auxiliary verbAuxiliary Verb as well as a main verbMain Verb. Compare the formation and the following uses:

  1. Be careful: In the third person singular ‘have’ changes to ‘has’.
  2. In the present simple, you can use ‘to have’ as a main verb
    • … to show possession:
      • “My neighbours have a house in Spain.”
      • “Simon has two sisters in London.”
    • … to demonstrate obligation:
      • “You have to wear a helmet when you ride a motorbike.”
      • “She is ill and has to stay in bed.”
  3. Additionally, you can employ the verb forms of ‘to have’ as auxiliary verbs in the present simple to form the present perfect simple. When they are used as auxiliary verbs, they can also have short forms:
    • “Susi has received a letter from the university.”
    • “Jason and Andrew have seen a lot of countries.”
    • “I’ve just seen her in the shoe shop.”

Peculiarities of ‘to have’ and ‘have got’

There is one special case in the present simple and the present perfect simple of ‘to have’ that needs to be mentioned: Although the verb forms differ, it can be used in both tenses to show possession or obligation without much difference in meaning. In order to do that, in British English ‘to have’ is often used in combination with the past participle ‘got’ (infinitive: ‘to get’); in American English this usage is not so common.

  • Now compare the differences in using ‘have’ and ‘have got’ in the following examples. For a detailed explanation, have a look at the usage and difference of ‘have’ and ‘have got’:
    • Examples for the use with and withoutgot’ to show possession:
      • Has he got a new car? – Yes, he has.” (common use in British English)
      • Does he have a new car? – Yes, he does.” (common use in American English)
    • Some examples of sentences that are used to demonstrate obligation. In this case ‘to’ is needed:
      • “I’ve got to go now, it’s getting late.” (British English)
      • “I have to go now, it’s getting late.” (American English)

Verb forms of ‘to have’ as part of the present perfect (as auxiliary verb)

The table shows the conjugation (verb forms) of ‘to have’ as an auxiliary verb in combination with the main verb ‘to eat’ forming the present perfect simple:

Positive/affirmative sentences

Pronoun Positive Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I You have eaten. You’ve eaten. Have you eaten?
we/you/they
he/she/it She has eaten. She’s eaten. Has she eaten?

Negative sentences

Pronoun Negative Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I I have not eaten. I haven’t eaten. Have you not eaten? Haven’t you eaten?
we/you/they
he/she/it He has not eaten. He hasn’t eaten. Has he not eaten? Hasn’t he eaten?

Verb forms of ‘to have’ in the present simple (as main verb)

Now the conjugation (verb forms) of ‘to have’ when it is employed as a main verb. All interrogative or negative forms require ‘to do’ as auxiliary verb:

Positive/affirmative sentences

Pronoun Positive Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I You have a car. – (short form is only possible when used as auxiliary verb) Do you have a car?
we/you/they
he/she/it She has a car. – (short form is only possible when used as auxiliary verb) Does she have a car?

Negative sentences

Pronoun Negative Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I We do not have a car. We don’t have a car. Do we not have a car? Don’t we have a car?
we/you/they
he/she/it He does not have a car. He doesn’t have a car. Does he not have a car? Doesn’t he have a car?

Explanations relating to the ‘Formation of ‘to have’ in the present simple’

The following additional explanations relate to the topic ‘Verb forms of ‘to have’ in the simple present’ and could be interesting too: