Standalone have

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Standalone have[1] involves use of the English verb have as a stalone verb, i.e. by itself, acting as both the auxiliary verb and the main verb. This occurs particularly in question and negative forms of the present simple and past simple where otherwise auxiliary do would typically be used.

Meaning[edit | edit source]

The meaning refers principally to possession.

Form[edit | edit source]

Example forms are given below; substitute pronouns and noun phrases:

Present tense:

  • "I have a pen" (this form is identical to "have" with hidden do)
  • "I have not a pen" = "I haven't a pen".
  • "Have you a pen?"
  • "Haven't you a pen?"

Past tense:

  • "I had a pen" (this form is identical to "have" with hidden do)
  • I had not a pen = I hadn't a pen.
  • Had you a pen?"
  • "Hadn't you a pen?"

The short answer should be "Yes, I have" or "No, I haven't".

Appropriacy[edit | edit source]

This is more common in British English than American English, and its use appears to be in decline. It is used more however in formal written registers, where "have got" is uncommon, and in older texts.

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

This inversion resembles that of be, and that which is found in other related languages, which may be the students' L1. e.g. "have you a pen?" is word-for-word "Hast du einen Stift?" in German and "As-tu un stylo?" in French.

Generally this is not explicitly taught at low levels. Yet at elementary level it may be produced by students and be considered an error, as it likely derives from a processing error (probably word-for-word translation) which produces serious errors if it’s applied to lexical verbs.

Similarly, the short answer to "Do you have…?" is taught as "Yes, I do", "No I don't" - though "Yes, I have" is not incorrect.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Placeholder name - there may be a better name for this but er{{subst:…}}