'BE', 'HAVE', 'DO': full verbs and auxiliary verbs


BE is a full verb when it combines with adjectives and nouns; HAVE is a full verb when it is used to mean 'possess', etc.; DO is a full verb when it is used to mean 'perform an activity', etc. The three verbs are auxiliary (or 'helping') verbs when they combine with other verbs to 'help' them complete their grammatical functions (see below).


Uses of 'BE' as an auxiliary verb

1. BE, on its own or in combination with HAVE, is used for progressive tense forms: e.g.

  • I am/He is/We are working. (Present Progressive)

  • I have been working. (Present Perfect Progressive)

2. BE combines with the Past Participle to form passives: e.g.

  • It was taken.

  • It can't be done.

Uses of 'HAVE' as an auxiliary verb

1. HAVE + Past Participle forms Simple Perfect Tenses: e.g.

  • I have/He has eaten. I had eaten.

2. HAVE + been + Present Participle forms Perfect Progressive: e.g.

  • I have/I had been eating.

3. HAVE + been + Past Participle forms passives: e.g.

  • It has been eaten.

  • She must have been delayed.


Questions/negatives with BE and HAVE as auxiliary verbs follow the same pattern as those for BE as a full verb. HAVE can function as an auxiliary and full verb in the same sentence.


Uses of 'DO' as an auxiliary verb


1. The most important use of DO as an auxiliary verb is that it combines with the base form of verbs to make questions and negatives in the Simple Present and Simple Past Tenses, and is used in place of a verb in short answers and question tags. Note that DO can function both as an auxiliary verb and as a full verb in the same sentence.

  • Do (auxiliary verb) you do (full verb) your shopping once a week?

2. DO is also used for emphasis:

  • Do sit down. I did turn the gas off.

  • Drive carefully! - I do drive carefully.

3. DO is used in place of a verb in: e.g.

  • I like ice-cream and Ann does, too.




Uses of 'BE' in the Imperative

The Imperative of BE is restricted to the following combinations:


1. 'BE' + noun

Many combinations of BE (affirmative) + noun are idiomatic:

  • Be a man!

  • Be an angel and fetch me my slippers please.

  • Go on! Have another slice! Be a devil!


Don't be + noun is much more common and very often refers to (foolish) behaviour. The negative response is I'm not!:

  • Don't be an ass/a clown/a fool/an idiot/an imbecile! etc.

And note combinations of BE + adjective + noun:

  • Be a good girl at school. Don't be a silly idiot!

BE can have the sense of 'become' especially in advertisements:

  • Be a better cook! Be the envy of your friends!

The negative don't be (= don't become) is often used for advice. Agreement is expressed with I won't (be).:

  • Don't be a racing driver! It's so dangerous.

BE is also used to mean 'pretend to be', especially after you:

  • (You) be the fairy godmother and I'll be Cinderella.

  • Be a monster, granddad!

And note:

  • Now be yourself again!

2. 'BE' + adjective

Only adjectives referring to passing behaviour can be used after be/don't be, e.g. careful/careless, patient/impatient, quiet, silly. (Be/Don't be will not usually combine with adjectives describing states, e.g. hungry/thirsty, pretty):

  • Be quiet! (negative response: I won't!)

  • Don't be so impatient! (negative response: I'm not!)

3. 'BE' + past participle

  • BE combines with a few past participles: e.g. Be prepared!, (Please) be seated!, Be warned! Compare: Get washed!

4. 'DO' + 'BE' in place of the Imperative and the Present Tense

The Imperative:

  • Be careful, or you'll break that vase!

can be re-phrased with if in the following way:

  • If you don't be careful, you'll break that vase.

This is less common than:

  • If you're not careful, you'll break that vase.


We can use 'BE' like any other imperative where the sense allows:

- after do: Do be careful with that vase!

- after you: You be quiet!

- with tags: Be quiet for a moment, will you?


The Simple Present form of 'BE'

affirmative short form negative short forms

I am I'm I'm not
You are You're You're not = You aren't
Tom is = He is Tom's = He's He's not = He isn't
Ann is = She is Ann's = She's She's not = She isn't
My ticket is = It is My ticket's = It's It's not = It isn't
Tom and I are = We are We're We're not = We aren't
Ann and you are = You are You're You're not = You aren't
Tom and Ann are = They are They're They're not = They aren't


Notes on the present form of 'be'


1. Short forms never occur at the end of a sentence:

  • I don't know where they are.

2. There are two negative short forms (e.g. You aren't and You're not) and there is no difference in their use. The short negative forms can stand on their own (I'm not/They aren't). The affirmative short forms (I'm, etc.) cannot stand on their own. Only the full affirmative forms can do this:

  • Are you ready? - Yes, I am. No, I'm not.

3. Note the formation of negative questions and negative question tags with I. The (rare) full form is Am I not ... ?, but this contracts to Aren't I ...? (Not *Amn't I ... ?*):

- negative question: Am I not late? Aren't I late?

- negative Wh-question: Why am I not invited? Why aren't I invited?

- negative question tag: I'm late, am I not? I'm late, aren't I?

Aren't I is only possible in negative questions/negative question tags and is never used in negative statements in standard English:

  • I am not late > I'm not late. (the only possible contraction)

There are no variations with other persons: e.g.

  • He isn't late. Isn't he late? He's late, isn't he?

4. The non-standard form ain't, in place of am not, is not and are not, is frequently heard in all persons and is avoided by educated speakers (except perhaps in joking):

  • Ain't you late? He ain't late.

  • I ain't late They ain't late.


The simple past form of 'be'

affirmative negative negative short form

I was I was not I wasn't
You were You were not You weren't
He was He was not He wasn't
She was She was not She wasn't
It was It was not It wasn't
We were We were not We weren't
You were You were not You weren't
They were They were not They weren't


Uses of 'BE' in the Simple Present and Simple Past


We use the present and past of BE when we are identifying people and things or giving information about them, and when we are talking about existence with There ... .

1. 'BE' + names/nouns/pronouns: identification/information

  • Her name is/was Helen. This is Tom. That was Harry.

  • Who's that? - It's me. Who was that? - It was Jane.

  • Which one is Mary? - That's her on the left.

  • The capital of England is London. In the past it was Winchester.

  • She is/was a doctor. They are/were doctors.

  • He is/was an American. They are/were Americans.

2. 'BE' + adjective

  • He is hungry. They are hungry. (state)

  • He was angry. They were naughty. (mood, behaviour)

  • She was tall. Her eyes are green. (description, colour)

  • She is French. They are French. (nationality)

  • It was fine/wet/cold/windy. (weather)

3. 'BE' + adjective(s) + noun

  • He is an interesting man. They are interesting men.

  • It is a blue jacket. They are blue jackets.

4. 'BE': time references, price, age, etc.

  • It is Monday/July 23/1992. It is Ł5.50. Tom is 14.

5. 'BE' + possessives

  • It's mine/Tom's. They are mine/Tom's.

6. 'BE' + adverbs and prepositional phrases

  • She is here/there. They are upstairs.

  • The play is next Wednesday. (future reference)

  • He is in the kitchen. They are at the door.

7. 'BE' + adverb particle and 'home'

  • Be combines with adverb particles (away, in, out, etc.);

  • Is Tim in? No, he's out. He's back in an hour.

  • Be combines with home (at is optional):

  • Where was Tim? Was he home?/Was he at home?

  • Compare: Tim's at home now. (= he has arrived at his home)

  • Tim's at home now. (= he may not have left home at all)


8. 'BE' in the Present and Past replacing 'have/had'

  • In informal English, the Present and Past of BE can replace have/had [present and past perfect] with verbs like do, finish, go:

  • I'm done with all that nonsense. (= I have done, i.e. finished)

  • I left my keys just there and next moment they were (had) gone.

  • Have you finished with the paper? - I'm (have) nearly finished.

9. 'Empty subject' + 'BE'

  • It's foggy. It's 20 miles to London.

10. 'BE' + infinitive

  • My aim is to start up my own company.


Form of the Present and Past Progressive of 'BE'


Present Progressive Past Progressive

I am (I'm) being > I was being >
You are (You're) being > You were being >
He is (He's) being > He was being >
She is (She's) being > silly. She was being > silly.
(It is (It's) being) > (It was being) >
We are (We're) being > We were being >
You are (You're) being > You were being >
They are (They're) being > They were being >


The use of 'BE' + 'being' to describe temporary behaviour


The progressive forms normally occur only with the present and the past forms of be. They are used with a few adjectives and nouns (or adjective and noun combinations). The progressive is possible with adjectives such as naughty, silly, referring to passing behaviour, but is not possible with adjectives describing states (hungry, thirsty, etc.). With some combinations there is a strong implication that the behaviour is deliberate. Compare temporary and usual behaviour in the following:

  • Your brother is being very annoying this evening.

  • He isn't usually so annoying.

  • Your brother was being a (silly) fool yesterday.

  • He isn't usually such a (silly) fool.


Form of the Present Perfect and Past Perfect of 'BE'


Present Perfect

full form short form

I have been > I've been >
You have been > You've been >
He has been > He's been >
She has been > She's been > ill.
(It has been) > (It's been) >
We have been > We've been >
You have been > You've been >
They have been > They've been >


Past Perfect

full form short form

I had been > I'd been >
You had been > You'd been >
He had been > He'd been >
She had been > She'd been > ill.
(It had been) > - >
We had been > We'd been >
You had been > You'd been >
They had been > They'd been >


Uses of 'have been' and 'had been'


In many of the uses described below, other languages require the Present or Past of BE where English requires has been or had been.


1. 'Have been/had been' + adjective: behaviour and states

Have been and Had Been will combine not only with adjectives describing temporary behaviour (annoying, etc.), but also with those describing states and moods continuing up till now or till then. Have been is common in conversation and had been in reported speech and written narrative:

  • Behaviour: She's been very quiet. I said she had been very quiet.

  • States: I've never been so tired. I said I'd never been so tired.

  • Moods: He's been very gloomy. I said he'd been very gloomy.


Some participles used as adjectives combine with have/had been:

  • My uncle has been retired for more than two years.

  • Their dog has been missing for three days.

And notice especially:

  • She's been gone (= away) for half an hour.

2. 'Have been/had been' + adjective: weather, etc.

Have been and had been also combine with adjectives describing the weather (i.e. states):

  • It's been very cold lately. I said it had been very cold.

In certain contexts other adjectives (e.g. numbers) are possible:

  • You're speaking as if you'd never been 15 years old in your life.


3. 'Have been/had been' + noun: professions, behaviour

Have been and had been will combine with noun (or with adjective + noun) to ask about or describe professions:

  • Have you ever been a teacher?

  • I've been a teacher, but now I'm a computer salesman.

  • How long have you been a computer salesman?

Nouns referring to behaviour will also combine with have been:

  • What a good girl you are! You've been an angel!

All the above examples can be transferred to the Past Perfect:

  • He told me he had been a waiter before he became a taxi-driver.


4. 'Have been/had been' and 'have gone/had gone'

HAVE BEEN (generally + to or in) has the sense of 'visit a place and come back'. HAVE GONE (followed by to and never by in) has the sense of 'be at a place or on the way to a place':

  • So there you are! Where have you been?

  • - I've been to a party/in the canteen. (= and come back)

  • Where's Pam? - She's gone to a party/to Paris/to the canteen.

  • (= She's on her way there, or she's there now.)


Have been and have gone will combine with adverb particles like out, away, and with home (not preceded by to):

  • Where have you been? I've been out/away/home.(i.e. I'm here now)

  • Where has Tim gone? - He's gone out/away/home.(i.e. he's not here now)

We can use from before home in: e.g.

  • He's come from home. (i.e. 'home' is where he started out from.)

  • Compare: He's come home. (= He has arrived at his home.)

  • Have been/had been combine with other adverbials as well:

  • He's been a long time. (i.e. He hasn't come back yet.)

Have been and have gone are interchangeable only when they have the sense of 'experience'. This can occur when they are used with ever or never and followed by:

  • - a gerund: Have you ever been/gone skiing in the Alps?

  • - for + noun: I've never been/gone for a swim at night.

  • - on + noun: Have you ever been/gone on holiday in winter?

5. 'Have been/had been' with 'since' and 'for'

With How long ... ?, since ..., for ... 'have been' can be used in the sense have lived/worked/waited or have been living/working/waiting:

  • How long have you been in London? (i.e. lived/been living)

  •  I've been here since January/for six months.

  • How long have you been with IBM? (i.e. worked/been working)

  • I've been with them since November/for three months.

  • How long have you been in this waiting-room? (waited/been waiting)

  • I've been here since 3 o'clock/for half an hour.

The past perfect replaces the present perfect in reported speech:

  • She told me she had been with IBM for three months.


Form of the future and future perfect of 'BE'



full form short form

I will/shall be > I'll be >
You will be > You'll be >
He will be > He'll be >
She will be > She'll be > late.
It will be > It'll be >
We will/shall be > We'll be >
You will be > You'll be >
They will be > They'll be >

Future Perfect

full form short form

I will/shall > I'll have been >
You will > You'll have been >
He will > He'll have been >
She will > She'll have been > late.
It will > It'll have been >
We will/shall > We'll have been >
You will > You'll have been >
They will > They'll have been >


The Future of 'be' as a full verb


Will be combines with many of the nouns and adjectives possible after the Simple Present/Past of BE for normal will-future uses:

  • It will be sunny tomorrow. I'll be here by 7.

Will be can be used for deduction: That will be Helen.


The Future Perfect of 'BE' as a full verb


Will have been combines with the same nouns and adjectives possible after have been for normal uses in the Future Perfect:

  • How long will you have been a teacher?

  • By the end of next week, I will have been a teacher for 25 years.

  • Will have been can be used to mean 'lived, worked, waited':

  • How long will you have been with IBM?

  • By the end of January, I will have been with IBM for six months.

  • Will have been can also be used for deduction:

  • That will have been Roland. He said he'd be back at 7.


'There' + 'BE'


Some forms of 'there' + 'be'


The Simple Present The Simple Past

  • There is a man at the door. There was someone to see you.

  • There are two men at the door. There were some people to see you.

The Present Perfect The Past Perfect

  • There has been an accident. He said there had been an accident/a lot of enquiries.

  • There have been a lot of enquiries.

The Simple Future The Future Perfect

  • There will be a letter for you tomorrow. There will have been a definite result before Friday.

Tag Questions

  • There is a big match on TV tonight, isn't there?

  • There has been some awful weather lately, hasn't there?

Common Contractions

There is = There's: There's a man at the door.
There has = There's: There's been an accident.
There have = There've: There've been a lot of accidents round here.
There had = There'd: He told me there'd been an accident near here.
There would = There'd: There'd be fewer accidents if drivers took care.
There will = There'll: There'll be a good harvest this year.


When we use 'there' + 'be' combinations


We use there + be combinations when we are talking or asking about the existence of people, things, etc. It is more idiomatic and 'natural' to say 'There's a man at the door' than to say 'A man is at the door'. The construction with there allows important new information to come at the end of the sentence for emphasis. We use there:


- when it is a 'natural choice':

There's been an accident. (= An accident has occurred.)

  • Is there a hotel near here? - There's one on the corner.


- to announce or report events, arrangements, facts, etc.:

  • There'll be a reception for the President at the Grand Hotel.

  • There's been a wedding at the local church.

- for scene-setting in story-telling:

  • There hadn't been any rain for months. 
    The earth was bare and dry. 
    There wasn't a blade of grass growing anywhere.



The present form of 'HAVE' as a full verb

affirmative full form short form negative short form

I have > I've > I haven't >
You have > You've > You haven't >
He has > - > He hasn't >
She has > - > She hasn't > chance.
It has > - > It hasn't >
We have > We've > We haven't >
You have > You've > You haven't >
They have > They've > They haven't >


The past form of 'HAVE' as a full verb


affirmative full form short form negative short form

I had > I'd > I hadn't >
You had > You'd > You hadn't >
He had > He'd > He hadn't >
She had > She'd > She hadn't > chance.
It had > - > It hadn't >
We had > We'd > We hadn't >
You had > You'd > You hadn't >
They had > They'd > They hadn't >


Notes on the forms of 'HAVE' and 'HAVE GOT' = 'possess'


Have and have got (= possess) are often interchangeable, but there are differences between British and American usage.


1. Have got is basically a perfect form. Compare the following:

a) get (= obtain) b) have got (= possess)

A Go and get the tickets.

What have you got? A Have you got the tickets?

B I've got the tickets. B Yes, I've got the tickets.

(= I have obtained them.) (= I possess them.)


In BrE, have got can be used as the perfect form of get to mean 'have obtained', as in a) above. This meaning is emphasized in the AmE form have gotten, which always means 'have obtained'. However, in BrE (more rarely in AmE) have got can also mean 'possess' - as in b) above, so that e.g. I have the tickets and I've got the tickets are equivalents. Indeed, in spoken, idiomatic BrE, I've got, etc. is more common than I have, etc.

2. In BrE, questions and negatives with HAVE = 'possess' can be formed in the same way as for be:

  • Are you ready? Have you a pen? (= Have you got ... ?)

  • Aren't you ready? Haven't you a pen? (= Haven't you got ... ?)

  • You aren't ready. You haven't a pen. (= You haven't got ...)

3. HAVE (= possess) is a stative verb. It cannot be used in the Progressive, though it can be used in all simple tenses:

  • present: I have a Ford.

  • past: He had a Ford last year.

  • present perfect: I have had this car for three years.

  • past perfect: He told me he had had a Ford for several years.

  • future: I will have a new car soon.

  • future perfect: By May I will have had (= possessed) this car five years.

  • with modals: e.g. I can have a Ford as a company car.

HAVE (= possess) is not normally used in the passive. The Imperative (never with got) is rare: Have patience!


4. HAVE GOT (= possess) is normally used only for present reference:

  • I've got a Ford.

  • The affirmative had got is sometimes possible in the past, but had on its own is generally preferred:

  • The bride looked lovely. Her dress had (got) a fine lace train.

  • We can never use had got for certain states.

  • He had (not *had got*) long hair when he was a teenager.

  • Had got is generally used in its original sense of 'had obtained':

  • When I saw him he had just got a new car.

  • Will have got is only used in the sense of 'will have obtained':

  • By May I will have got (= will have obtained) a new car.

  • Have got in the passive is impossible.


5. Hadn't got is usually possible as an alternative to didn't have:

  • I didn't have (hadn't got) an appointment, so I made one for 4 p.m.

  • I felt cold. I didn't have (hadn't got) a coat.

  • Hadn't on its own (always contracted) is possible (I hadn't an appointment, I hadn't a coat) but not very usual.


In past questions, the usual form is Did you have ... ?:

  • Did you have an appointment? When did you have one?

Had you ...? sounds old-fashioned and formal. Had you got ... ? can be used in Yes/No questions, but sounds awkward in Wh-questions, so is usually avoided:

  • Had you got an appointment? (but not usually When had you got?)

  • Have got is preferable to have in Which subject-questions:

  • Which (pen) have you got? (or do you have?), but not usually Which (pen) have you?


6. Some forms of HAVE (= possess) are rare or not encountered at all:

- the short form of the affirmative, especially in the third person (he's/she's).

The full form is used: He/She has a pen.

- the uncontracted negative. The contracted form is normal:

I haven't (or hadn't) a pen.

- some question-forms, except when formed with do, etc. (note 5).

7. Compare:

My bag's old. It's old. (= My bag is old/It is old)

My bag's got a hole in it. It's got a hole in it.

(= My bag has got a hole in it/It has got a hole in it)


8. The non-standard form ain't got is commonly heard in place of haven't got and hasn't got:

  • I ain't got my bag. She ain't got her bag.

similarly, have and has are often omitted before got:

  • I got my car outside. (for I have got)


When we use 'HAVE' and 'HAVE GOT' = 'possess'


In all the examples below, HAVE can be replaced by HAVE GOT in the Present and sometimes in the Past. Short forms with got (I've got) are much more common than full forms (I have got), especially in speech.


1. In the sense of 'own' or 'possess':

  • I have (got) a new briefcase.

2. In the sense of 'be able to provide':

  • Do you have/Have you (got) any ink? (= Can you let me have some?)

  • Do you have/Have you (got) any fresh eggs? (= Can you let me have some?)

3. HAVE (GOT) + number (of things)/quantity of a substance:

  • I have (got) fourteen pencils. I have (got) a lot of milk.

4. Possession of physical characteristics:

  • Have and have got combine with nouns like: a beard, blue eyes, long hair, a scar, a slim figure, to describe appearance:

  • You should see our baby. He has (got) big brown eyes.

  • Our dog has (got) long ears.

  • This plant has (got) lovely russet leaves.

  • Our house has (got) five rooms.

5. Possession of mental and emotional qualities:

Have and have got combine with nouns like: faith, a good mind, patience, a quick temper, to describe character:

  • She has (got) nice manners, but she has (got) a quick temper.

6. Family relationships:

  • I have (got) two sisters.

7. Contacts with other people.

  • I have (got) a good dentist. (i.e. whom I can recommend to you)

8. In the sense of 'wear':

  • That's a nice dress you have/you've got.

In this sense, HAVE often combines with on: have something on, have got something on:

  • That's a nice dress you have on/you've got on.

  • I can't answer the door. I have (got) nothing on.

9. Illnesses:

Have and have got combine with nouns describing pains and illnesses. For the use of a/an with such nouns:

  • I have (got) a cold/a bad headache.

  • The baby has (got) measles.

10. Arrangements:

Have and have got combine with nouns like: an appointment, a conference, a date, an interview, a meeting, time, etc.:

  • I have (got) an appointment with my dentist tomorrow morning.

  • Sally has (got) an interview for a job today.

11. Opinions:

Have and have got combine with nouns like: an idea, influence, an objection, an opinion, a point of view, a proposal, a suggestion:

  • I have (got) an idea!

  • Have you (got) any objection to this proposal?

12. In the sense of 'there is':

  • You have (got) a stain on your tie. (= There is a stain on your tie.)

  • You have (got) sand in your hair. (= There is sand in your hair.)


'HAVE' as a full verb meaning something other than 'possess'


Forms of 'have' meaning something other than 'possess'


  • Imperative: Have a cup of coffee!

  • Simple Present: I always have milk in my tea.

  • Present Progressive: We're having a nice time.

  • Simple Past: We had a lovely holiday last summer.

  • Past Progressive: I was having a bath when the phone rang.

  • Present Perfect: Poor Jim has just had an accident.

  • Present Perfect Progressive: The children have been having a lot of fun.

  • Past Perfect: I woke up because I had had a bad dream.

  • Past Perfect Progressive: I woke up - I had been having a bad dream.

  • Simple Future: I'll have a haircut tomorrow.

  • Future Progressive: If anyone phones, I'll be having a bath.

  • Future Perfect: You'll have had an answer by tomorrow.

  • Future Perfect Progressive: She will have been having treatment all her life.

  • with modal verbs: e.g. You could have a cup of tea if you like.



The forms 'HAVE' (= possess) and 'HAVE' (other meanings)


1. HAVE, in the sense of 'eat, enjoy, experience, drink, take', etc., is a dynamic verb so it is concerned with actions (e.g. have a walk), not states like HAVE in the sense of 'possess' (e.g. I have (got) a car). Because of this, it can be used in the progressive form of all the tenses. Compare:

  • I have (= I've got) a drink, thanks.(i.e. it's in my hand: stative)

  • I'm having a drink.(= I'm drin,ing: dynamic)

  • I have a drink every evening before dinner.(= I drink: dynamic)

Have got can never replace have used as a dynamic verb.


2. HAVE in the sense of 'take', etc. is used like any other English verb. This means that:

- questions and negatives in the Simple Present and Simple Past must be formed with do, does and did:

  • Do you have milk in your tea? I don't have milk in my tea.

  • Did you have a nice holiday? I didn't have a nice holiday.

Compare HAVE meaning 'possess':

  • Have you (got) any milk in your tea? (= Is there any?)

  • I haven't (got) any milk in my tea. (= There isn't any.)

- it occurs freely in all active tenses as the context permits, but

- passive forms are rare: e.g. a good time was had by all.

- the passive infinitive sometimes occurs in: e.g.

  • I tried to buy some extra copies of this morning's newspaper, but there were none to be had. (i.e. they were not available)


3. There are no contracted forms of HAVE (= 'take', etc.) as a full verb in the Simple Present and Simple Past:

  • I have a cold shower every morning. (not *I've...*)


Compare HAVE, meaning 'possess':

  • I have/I've/I've got a new shower in my bathroom.


4. The Present and Past Perfect Tenses of HAVE involve the use of have as both auxiliary verb and main verb. For this reason, the Present Perfect and Past Perfect forms are given in full below.


Form of the Simple Present Perfect of 'HAVE' = 'take'


affirmative short form negative short forms

I have had > I've had > I haven't had >
You have had > You've had > You haven't had >
He has had > He's had > He hasn't had >
She has had > She's had > She hasn't had > lunch.
It has had > It's had > It hasn't had >
We have had > We've had > We haven't had >
You have had > You've had > You haven't had >
They have had > They've had > They haven't had >


Form of the Simple Past Perfect of 'HAVE' = 'take'


affirmative short form negative short forms

I had had > I'd had > I hadn't had >
You had had > You'd had > You hadn't had >
He had had > He'd had > He hadn't had >
She had had > She'd had > She hadn't had > lunch.
It had had > It'd had > It hadn't had >
We had had > We'd had > We hadn't had >
You had had > You'd had > You hadn't had >
They had had > They'd had > They hadn't had >


Notes on the forms 'have had' and 'had had'


1. These forms are, of course, quite regular: I have had my lunch and I had had my lunch work in the same way as I have eaten my lunch and I had eaten my lunch.

Here are a few more examples of HAVE as a full verb in the Present Perfect and Past Perfect:

  • Have you ever had lunch at Maxim's?

  • That boy looks as if he's never had a haircut.

  • I had never had a ride on an elephant before I went to India.

2. In general, the negative forms I haven't had, I hadn't had, etc. are more common than I've not had and I'd not had.


3. The following forms should not be confused:

  • He's ill. (= He is ill.) and He's had lunch. (= He has had lunch.)

  • He'd had lunch. (= He had had lunch.) and

  • He said he'd have lunch now. (= he would have lunch now)


Common 'HAVE' + noun combinations


HAVE combines with a great many nouns. In this respect, it is similar to other phrases with such verbs as give (e.g. in give a thought) and take (in e.g. take an exam):

  • Let's have lunch. I'd like to have a sandwich please.


'HAVE' + noun in place of other verbs


The verbs to sleep, to swim, etc. can be expressed with 'have + noun' in the sense of 'perform that activity': e.g.

  • to dance - to have a dance: I had two dances with Molly.

  • to fight - to have a fight: Those twins are always having fights.

  • to look - to have a look: Just have a look at this.

  • to rest - to have a rest: I want to have a rest this afternoon.

  • to ride - to have a ride: Can I have a ride in your car?

  • to talk - to have a talk: Jim and I have just had a long talk.

  • to swim - to have a swim: Come and have a swim with us.

  • to wash - to have a wash: I must have a wash before lunch.


HAVE commonly replaces verbs like the following:

receive: I had a letter from Jim this morning.

permit: I won't have that kind of behaviour in my house.


The use of 'HAVE' in the Imperative


One of the most common uses of HAVE (= 'take', etc.) is in the Imperative. It is often used after DO for emphasis and/or encouragement (Do have ... ). Common instances are:

  • Offers: Do have some oysters! Don't have tomato soup!

  • Suggestions: Have a bath and a rest and you'll feel better.

  • Encouragement: Have a go! Have a try! Have a shot at it!

  • Good wishes: Have fun! Have a good time! Have a good day! (fixed expressions)

In English there are no direct references to appetite, digestion, etc. (like Bon appetit! in French or Guten Appetit! in German), but expressions with have can be coined to suit particular occasions:

  • Have a really good meal! Have a lovely party!

  • Have a really restful holiday!

  • Have a really interesting debate! etc.




Forms of 'DO' as a full verb


Imperative: Do your homework!

Simple Present: I do the shopping every morning.

Present Progressive: I'm doing this crossword puzzle.

Simple Past: He did a lot of work this morning.

Past Progressive: We were doing sums all yesterday evening.

Present Perfect: We've just done the washing up.

Present Perfect Progressive: I've been doing this exercise all day.

Past Perfect: We went home after we had done our work.

Simple Future: I'll do the housework tomorrow morning.

Future Progressive: I'll be doing jobs about the house tomorrow.

Past Perfect Progressive: had been doing business with We  each other for years before we quarrelled.

Future Perfect: If you finish this job as well, you will have done far more than I expected.

Future Perfect Progressive: By this time next year, we will have been doing business with each other for 20 years


with modal verbs: e.g. Would you do me a favour please?


The present form of 'DO' as a full verb


affirmative negative full form negative short form

I do > I do not > I don't >
You do > You do not > You don't >
He does > He does not > He doesn't >
She does > the work. She does not > She doesn't > do the work.
It does > It does not > It doesn't >
We do > We do not > We don't >
You do > You do not > You don't >
They do > They do not > They don't >


The past form of 'DO' as a full verb


affirmative negative full form negative short form

I did > I did not > I didn't >
You did > You did not > You didn't >
He did > He did not > He didn't >
She did > the work. She did not > She didn't > do the work.
It did > It did not > It didn't >
We did > We did not > We did'nt >
You did > You did not > You didn't >
They did > They did not > They didn't >


The present perfect form of 'DO' as a full verb


affirmative negative full form negative short form

I have done > I have not done > I haven't done >
You have done > You have not done > You haven't done >
He has done > He has not done > He hasn't done >
She has done > She has not done > She hasn't done > it.
It has done > It has not done > It hasn't done >
We have done > We have not done > We haven't done >
You have done > You have not done > You haven't done >
They have done > They have not done > They haven't done >


Uses of 'DO' as a full verb


1. 'DO' = 'perform an activity or task'


DO often has the sense of 'work at' or 'be engaged in something'. 'Doing something' can be deliberate or accidental. We can use verbs other than do to answer questions like What are you doing?:

  • What are you doing?

  • - I'm reading. (i.e. that's what I'm doing)

  • What did you do this morning?

  • - I wrote some letters. (i.e. that's what I did)

  • What have you done?

  • - I've broken this vase. (i.e. that's what I've done)


We often use DO in this sense with some/any/no compounds:

  • Haven't you got anything to do? I've got nothing to do.

We can use DO to refer to an unnamed task and then we can refer to named tasks by means of other verbs:

  • I did a lot of work around the house today. I took down the curtains and washed them and I cleaned the windows.

2. The use of 'DO' to avoid repeating a previous verb

We can use do to avoid repeating a previous verb:

  • Antonia works 16 hours a day. I don't know how she does it.

  • Take the dog for a walk. - I've already done it/done so.


We can avoid repeating the verb in short answers, such as:

  • Shall I take the dog for a walk? - Yes, do./No, don't. (i.e. take/don't take the dog for a walk)

3. 'DO' = 'be in the wrong place'

Used in this sense, do often conveys disapproval, e.g.

- of present results of past actions:

What are those clothes doing on the floor? (i.e. they shouldn't be there)

- of people:

What are those boys doing in our garden? (i.e. we disapprove of their presence, not their actions)

4. 'DO' before gerunds

We can use 'do + gerund' to refer to named tasks:

  • I've done the shopping/the ironing/the washing up.

  • We did all our shopping yesterday.

  • I do a lot of swimming. (in preference to 'I swim a lot.')

  • I stayed at home last night and did some reading.


'DO' and 'MAKE' compared


MAKE conveys the sense of 'create'; DO (often suggesting 'be engaged in an activity') is a more general term:

  • What are you doing? - I'm making a cake.

  • What are you making? - A cake.

Both DO and MAKE can be used in a variety of fixed combinations. Here is a brief selection:

DO + one's best; business with someone; damage to something; one's duty; an experiment; the homework; housework; someone a favour; (no/any) good; harm; damage; an exercise; research; the cleaning; the washing (up); the cooking; the shopping, etc.

MAKE + an accusation against (someone); an agreement with (someone); an appointment; an arrangement; an announcement; an attempt; a choice; a decision; a mistake; a comment; a (phone) call; a suggestion; a speech, etc.

Sometimes both MAKE and DO are possible:

  • I'll make/I'll do the beds this morning, if you like.


'DO' in fixed expressions

DO occurs in numerous fixed expressions, such as:

  • What does he do? (i.e. What work does he do for a living?)

  • How do you do?

  • That'll do! (e.g. That will be enough.)

  • How many miles does it do to the gallon? (do in the sense of 'go')

  • This simply won't do. (i.e. It's unacceptable.)

  • How did you do? (i.e. How did you manage?)

  • I could do with a drink. (i.e. I would like a drink.)

  • It's got nothing to do with me. (i.e. It doesn't concern me.)

  • I can do without a car. (i.e. manage without a car)

  • I was done! (i.e. I was cheated.)

  • Shall I do your room out? (i.e. clean it)

  • You did me out of my share. (i.e. cheated me)