How can you use has and had correctly in English? Here’s an explanation and an exercise for you.
The two main uses of “have”
We use the verb “to have” as a main verb and also as an auxiliary verb.
“He has a new house.” (main verb, used to show possession)
“He has been to the USA four times.” (auxiliary verb, used to form the Present Perfect tense)
Using “have” as a main verb
The Present Simple form of the verb “have” is:
I have …
You have …
He / She / It has …
We have …
They have …
When we make negative and question forms, we need the auxiliary “do” / “does”, and “don’t” / “doesn’t”.
“I don’t have the answer.”
“She doesn’t have a job.”
“Do you have the time?”
“Does he have any brothers or sisters?”
The Past Simple form of the verb “have” is “had”.
“When she was young, she had a toy car.”
“We had a good time at the party.”
Use “did” and “didn’t” as the auxiliaries in questions and negatives.
“Did you have any difficulty getting here?”
“He didn’t have a good time at the party.”
Using “have” as an auxiliary verb
We also use “have” as an auxiliary verb when we make the Present Perfect tense. Remember that “have” changes to “has” in the third person singular (so for “he”, “she” and “it”).
Subject + have / has + past participle
“I have made an appointment with the doctor.”
“You have been so kind to me – thank you!”
“He / She has lived here for five years.”
“It has been really cold recently.”
“We have just had dinner.”
“They have had problems with their son.”
If you want to make the Present Perfect form of the verb “have”, this means you need to use the auxiliary (“have / has”) with the past participle, which is “had”.
“My sister has just had a baby.”
“He has had an operation.”
Using “had” as an auxiliary verb
We can use “had” as an auxiliary verb in the Past Perfect tense. Because “had” is the past form of “have”, it doesn’t change for the third person singular.
Subject + had + past participle
“I had just left when I realised that I was late.”
“Because you hadn’t given me the key, I couldn’t get in.”
“She had gone to the wrong train station because the directions were wrong.”
“We had had too many problems with the hotel, so we cut short our holiday.”
“They hadn’t been to that resort before.”
If you want to make the Past Perfect form of the verb “have”, this means you need to use the auxiliary (“had”) with the past participle, which is “had”.
“She had had lots of problems with her boss, which was why she decided to leave.”
“They had just had dinner when they heard the news.”
Has and Had
Choose the correct answer.
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