Skip to content
Home » Auxiliary verbs » To have

To have — auxiliary verb



  • Base form = have
  • Present form = have/has
  • Past form = had
  • Present participle/gerund = having
  • Past participle = had

To show ownership and possession of objects, relationships, states

  • have a friend who lives in Spain.
  • She has a new car.
  • He has a girlfriend.

To talk about experiences and actions

  • The lady is having a beer with us tonight.
  • I’m going to have a shower now.
  • He has a lot of work to do.

Used with to + infinitive to express an obligation

  • She has to clean the garage by 18h tonight.
  • They have to learn English.
  • He still has to learn a lot.

Used as an auxiliary verb to form ‘perfect’ forms in English.

Perfect forms in English are:  

The present perfect tense (have/has + past participle): 

  • He has been to the mall.
  • I haven’t seen her for ages.
  • David has left for France.

The past perfect tense (had + past participle): 

  • She had left the office before 18:00.
  • Had you taken your books to work yesterday before arriving?
  • They had been in traffic for ten hours before they managed to arrive home.

The present perfect continuous tense (have/has + been + verb + –ing): 

  • She’s been speaking to me for an hour on the phone. I’m exhausted.
  • For how long has she been living in the United States?
  • I’ve been speaking French my whole life.

The past perfect continuous tense (had + been + verb + –ing): 

  • We had been driving for fifteen hours straight last week.
  • Had you been emailing her when I saw you on Tuesday?
  • My friends at school had been acting quite rude when I saw them last week.

The future perfect tense (will/shall + have + past participle): 

  • My aunty shall have arrived at the airport at five o’clock tonight.
  • They won’t have spoken a word of English when they wake up tonight.
  • When I get to the city centre I’ll have run out of petrol.

The future perfect continuous tense (will/shall + have + been + verb + –ing): 

  • Will we have been sleeping for thirteen hours by the time we get to Sydney?
  • I shall have been living in Scotland for eight years by 2025.
  • He’ll have been talking on his phone for nearly three hours by the time we finally get to our destination.

‘Perfect forms’ in English

Present perfectHave/has + past participleSophie has slept well.
I haven’t worked today.
Past perfectHad + past participleJames had left the office before his boss arrived.
We hadn’t seen them before Friday.
Present perfect continuousHave/has + been + verb + ingThey’ve been working on their project for three years now.
Lewis has been studying hard for their exam this week.
Past perfect continuousHad + been + verb + ingI hadn’t been working last night before you saw me.
I hoped she had been messaging me before I called her.
Future perfectWill + have + past participleI won’t’ve been to the city before the end of this year, James.
William will have travelled to Barcelona by the end of this year.
Future perfect continuousWill + have + been + verb + ingWe’ll have been living in San Diego for eight years by the end of next year.
I’ll have been living in Japan for one whole year by the end of December.

Quick lesson with context and analysis

  • Hey Gary, how’s1 your day going?
  • It’s been going2 well, although, I have too many tasks3 I’m totally overrun4.
  • Really5? What do you have to do then?
  • Well, I’ve been doing6 these sketches for the new building renovations, and I haven’t been7 able to finish it. I’ll probably have to work8 though the weekend.
  • Working over the weekend? Really? Do you have a girlfriend9?
  • Yes, I’ve got a girlfriend. She’s not going10 to be happy about this at all.
  • Well, Gary I’m sorry you have so much work to do. Maybe I can help you out11. I haven’t been keeping12 that busy so just13 let me know if you need a hand or something.
  • Sure! Thanks so much.
  • No problem. Just let me know.


  1. How’s your day going? The contraction ‘s can either be is or has. In this case, the contraction is is. This is the present continuous tense used to talk about an action happening in the moment. We use the present continuous tense with be.
  2. It’s been going well. The contraction ‘s is the auxiliary verb has here (in third person, has). Have is being used to form the present perfect continuous (have/has + been + verb + ing). The present perfect continuous form is used to talk about actions that have been happening right up until a certain point.
  3. I have too many tasks. Have is being used to show possession of an object. The object in this case are the tasks.
  4. I’m totally overrun. Overrun is an adjective, therefore the auxiliary verb be is used. We always use be with adjectives to describe people or things.
  5. Really? This word is used a lot in English to show interest in what someone is saying. It’s a way of showing surprise or clarification.
  6. I’ve been doing these sketches. The present perfect continuous is being used here. The auxiliary verb have is in its contracted form ‘ve in the first-person singular. ‘ve = have. I.e., I’ve, you’ve, we’ve, you’ve (plural), they’ve.  
  7. I haven’t been. The present perfect tense is being used with the auxiliary verb have.
  8. I’ll probably have to work through the weekend. Remember, we use the auxiliary verb have + to + infinitive to express obligation. Here, an obligation is being expressed.
  9. Do you have a girlfriend? Have is being used to show possession. One can say, for example, I have a boyfriend/car/dog/cat etc.
  10. She’s not going to be happy. We use the form be going to, to 1) express an intention, and 2) talk about the short-term future. In the above example, the short-term future is being expressed.
  11. Maybe I can help you out. The phrasal verb help out is slightly different from the verb help in that we use help out to express a need for help in everyday circumstances. For instance, Your brother is tired, can you help him out with his homework. On the contrary, if someone is in serious need of help or assistance then you need to use the verb help, and not the phrasal verb, help out.
  12. I haven’t been keeping that busy. The present perfect continuous is used to describe an action that has been happening right up until the present moment. Have/has + been + verb + ing.
  13. Just let me know if you need a hand. Just is a popular word that we can insert in to sentences or questions to make them more polite or passive sounding. I.e., I would just like to know if you sell this model? Please, just tell me what you’re thinking.

See also