Verb To Have
To a learner of English as a foreign language (EFL and ESL), the verb to have could cause difficulties. It is, without a doubt, an unusual verb in the sense that it functions in various ways, which can be confusing. However, if the learner can identify the three different ways this verb is used, he or she will find that the formula is rather simple.
(1) To Have as a main verb:
The verb to have
functions as any other action verb and it implies the meaning of possession.
For example, when one says:
have a car; have a house; I have a book, one means that a person possesses a car, a house, or a book.
The forms of the verb
to have are as simple as any other verb:
have; you have; she has; he has (notice that the third party singular takes
has) we have- they have- it has
** I had;
you had; she had; he had; we had; hey had; it had
(Notice that all nouns and pronouns take
had in the past tense.)
** I am having- you are having;
she is having; he is having - we are having; they are having- it is having
(Notice the use of the verb to be + have + -ing; this is the present progressive tense.
To make the past progressive tense, you just change the verb to be to the past.)
** I have had;
you have had - she has had; he has had; we have had- they have had- it has had
(Notice the use of the verb
to have twice. Although this may confuse you, you should realize that the first time to have is used as an auxiliary, and the second time is the actual verb meaning to own. Notice that has is used with she/he/it; this is particularly confusing to ESL/EFL students. It will be explained when we discuss the perfect tense.)
(2) To Have as an auxiliary:
to have is also used as an auxiliary to help other verbs create the perfect tense, for example,
I have studied English for five years; or I have visited
This does not pose a problem except when the main verb is the verb to have meaning to own or possess.
I have had my car for ten years. Have here is the auxiliary and had is the main verb in the
Therefore, you ought to remember that the verb to have
functions both as a main verb meaning to own and as an auxiliary verb to help other verbs create the perfect tense.
(3) The use of Have to:
I n addition to the two forms you learned above, there is another use for have in the expression have to; meaning must. This, of course, must be followed by another verb.
I have to visit my brother tonight. She has to see the doctor. And in the past tense,
We had to write a paragraph.
The verb 'to do':
is also an unusual verb and can be confusing to non-native English speakers. Because of the lack of exact translation of the verb
to do in other languages, non native speakers confuse it with the verb
to make. In fact, most French and Spanish dictionaries list the verb
to do as the verb to make. This, however, is not necessarily true. While the verb
to do and to make
may overlap in other languages, in English they are two separate verbs, distinguished and with different meanings.
While in Spanish one may say,
Yo hago cafe todos los dias, one may not say in English, I do coffee every
day. And the equivalent verb in French is faire which means make, do, create, form, perform, effect, and many other meanings. Hence, to fully understand this verb, one must look at it with only an English eye; this means that one must not try to translate this action verb literally.
to do functions as a main verb with its own meaning that is very different from make. For example," I do my homework every
day; I do my laundry every Saturday, but, I make coffee every
morning. I make dinner every night.
More functions for the verb
While the verb
to do works as a main verb, it also functions in two separate ways: as an emphasis verb and as an auxiliary verb in the question form.
(1) For emphasis:
to do may be used to emphasize another verb, to put stress on it, or to make it stand out.
Example, when one says:
Do come in,
Do sit down; Do call at any
one is emphasizing the verb come, sit, and call. The verb to
do here is merely used to make the action verbs out and to show sincerity on the part of the speaking person. This form is not commonly used in the United States; however, it is used often in England and Canada. People refer to this kind of speech as
Queen's English or what one might call White House English.
(2) For questions and negative statements:
to do is also used as an auxiliary verb that helps create questions. For example, one must ask, did you go to school yesterday? And not,
You went to school yesterday? All questions about actions must include the verb
to do unless the question is a perfect tense in a progressive form.
To do is used to make action verbs negative, as in,
I don't get up early or Bill didn't come to
class, unless the negative statement is in a perfect or progressive tense.
Tenses and forms of verbs:
The following may help you avoid errors in verb tenses or verb forms: Just like most languages, English verbs have several forms, and each verb tense uses a particular form. These are the possible forms followed by two examples, a regular verb and an irregular verb:
Infinitive: To work- to eat
simple: work (s)- eat (s)
progressive: working - eating
past: worked - ate
past participle: worked eaten
** Note that some books refer to the progressive form as the present participle and to the past participle as the
en form. Note also that the term continuous is sometimes used instead of
Verb tenses are divided into three major times:
Future * Present * Past
Each time is divided into four different tenses:
Simple * Progressive * Perfect * Perfect Progressive
Final Thought and Summary:
While in England, I learned that acquiring English was neither easy nor impossible. I learned that there was always some way to the top of the mountain named English. It was just a matter of finding and choosing the best pat h to follow; if the chosen path was too complex to make progress, it was necessary to go back and choose another route. I hope that my students will do the same, recognizing that their English is certain to improve, given time and dedication.
Learning some rules can be helpful
The following are some general rules that you may find useful:
- 1- Usually, use a gerund after a preposition.
- 2- Remember that
I comes always before E except after C
- Receive; believe
- 3- Learn the prefixes and the suffixes,
they will help you figure out the meaning of unknown vocabulary.
- 4- Remember that you cannot have a verb in an
–ing form without using the verb to be as an auxiliary verb; unless the verb is used as a noun or an adjective.
- I am working- she was playing-
We have been studying- he had been sleeping
to be is used as an auxiliary verb only in two ways:
- A- to make the progressive tense- we are working.
- B- to make the passive voice- the bank was robbed.
- 6- Modals are very special words, each of which has its own meaning; and the past form of a modal does not necessarily mean the past tense.
- 7- If you use the verb
to have as an auxiliary verb, the main verb must be in the
en form, the past participle. I have eaten.
- 8- In reported speech, when the main verb is past, you must remember to move back all the verbs in the quotes by one degree. This means that in reported speech, all the present tense will be moved to the past tense; all the past tense will be moved to the past perfect tense; and all past perfect tense will stay the same because no tense goes back farther than past perfect.
- i.e. She said to her boyfriend:
Why did you come late?
- Notice that verb come is in the past (did…come) then it will have to be moved to past perfect (had come) thus: She asked her boyfriend why he had come late.
- 9- Remember that the use of prepositions is strictly cultural and there is no explanation as to why in
English we use different proposition than in French, Spanish, Italian or other languages.
- 10- Learning the nine rules above will make writing a lot easier and a lot more fun.