Meaning of HAVE in English

I. have 1 S1 W1 /v, əv, həv; strong hæv/ BrE AmE auxiliary verb ( past tense and past participle had /d, əd, həd; strong hæd/, third person singular has /z, əz, həz; strong hæz/)

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: habban ]

1 . used with past participles to form ↑ perfect tenses:

Our guests have arrived.

Has anyone phoned?

We’ve been spending too much money.

I hadn’t seen him for 15 years.

‘I hope you’ve read the instructions.’ ‘Yes, of course I have.’

You haven’t done much, have you?

2 . somebody had better/best do something used to say that someone should do something:

You’d better phone to say you’ll be late.

We’d better not tell Jim about our plans just yet.

3 . had somebody done something formal if someone had done something:

Had we known about it earlier, we could have warned people of the danger.

II. have 2 S1 W1 /hæv/ BrE AmE verb [transitive]

1 . QUALITY/FEATURE ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] used to say what someone or something looks like, what qualities or features they possess etc:

She has dark hair and brown eyes.

Sullivan’s music does have a certain charm.

You need to have a lot of patience to be a teacher.

Wild rice has a very nutty flavour.

He didn’t even have the courtesy to answer my letter.

have it in you (=have the skill or special quality needed to do something)

You should have seen the way Dad was dancing – I didn’t know he had it in him!


In everyday British English, people usually say have got something rather than have something, but in writing they usually prefer to use just have :

He’s got a degree from Bristol University. (spoken, everyday)

He has all the relevant qualifications. (written)

2 . INCLUDE/CONTAIN ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to include or contain something or a particular number of things or people:

Japan has a population of over 120 million.

How many pages has it got?

have something in it/them

The tank still has water in it.

3 . OWN ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] spoken used to say that someone owns something or that it is available for them to use:

They used to have a Mercedes Benz.

Has your secretary got a fax machine?

Have you ever had your own business?

He’s a lovely dog – how long have you had him?

Can I have the car tonight, Dad?

4 . CARRY/HOLD ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to be holding something or carrying it with you:

Have you got a match?

Look out! He’s got a gun.

have something on/with you

Have you got any money on you?

I’m afraid I don’t have my address book with me.

5 . DO SOMETHING British English to do something

have a look/walk/sleep/talk/think etc

We were just having a look around.

Are you going to have a swim?

6 . EAT/DRINK/SMOKE to eat, drink, or smoke something:

She sat down and had another drink.

Someone had been having a cigarette in the toilet.

have lunch/a meal etc

I usually have breakfast at about seven o'clock.

7 . EXPERIENCE to experience something or be affected by something:

We’ve been having a lot of difficulties with our new computer system.

I’m afraid your son has had a serious accident.

He is in hospital having treatment for a knee injury.

I hope you have a good holiday.

have a good/terrible etc time

Thanks for everything – we had a great time.

have somebody doing something

He found it quite natural to have people fussing over him.

8 . IDEA/FEELING ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to think of something or to experience a particular feeling:

If you have any good ideas for presents, let me know.

I have lots of happy memories of my time in Japan.

He had an awful feeling of guilt.

9 . DISEASE/INJURY/PAIN ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to suffer from a disease, injury, or pain:

Sarah’s got a cold.

One of the victims had a broken leg.

10 . RECEIVE ( also have got especially British English ) to receive something:

I had lots of phone calls.

have something from somebody

Have you had any news yet from Graham?

I expect he had some help from his father.

11 . AMOUNT OF TIME ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] if you have a particular amount of time, it is available for you to do something:

You have just 30 seconds to answer the question.

have time (to do something)

I haven’t time to stop and talk just now.

12 . have your hair cut/your house painted etc to pay a professional person to cut your hair etc for you:

Where do you normally have your hair done?

We’d only just had a new engine put in.

13 . have something stolen/broken/taken etc if you have something stolen, broken etc, someone steals, breaks etc something that belongs to you:

She had all her jewellery stolen.

Mullins had his nose broken in a fight.

14 . have something ready/done/finished etc to have made something ready to be used, or have finished doing something:

I should have the car ready by Monday.

15 . IN A POSITION OR STATE ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] used to say that your body or something else is in a particular position or state, because you moved or did something

have something open/closed/on etc

I had my eyes half-closed.

Janice likes to have the window open.

She had her back to the door.

have something doing something

He’s always got the stereo playing.

16 . FAMILY/FRIENDS ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] used to say that there is someone who is your relation or friend:

She has an uncle in Wisconsin.

It was nice for Alice to have friends of her own age.

17 . JOB/DUTY ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to be employed in a particular job or to be responsible for doing something:

Her boyfriend has a well-paid job.

The headteacher has responsibility for the management of the school.

have something to do

I can’t stand here talking – I have work to do (=there is work that I must do) .

18 . EMPLOY/BE IN CHARGE OF ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to employ or be in charge of a group of workers:

Margaret Gillies currently has a team of 20 volunteers working for her.

19 . GOODS/ROOMS AVAILABLE ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] if a shop or a hotel has goods or rooms, they are available for you to buy or use:

Do you have any single rooms?

They didn’t have any sweaters in my size.

20 . have (got) somebody with you if you have someone with you, they are present with you:

Luckily I had a friend with me who spoke German.

21 . HOLD SOMEBODY ( also have got especially British English ) [not in progressive] to hold someone violently by a part of their body:

They had him by the throat.

22 . VISITORS/GUESTS if you have visitors or guests, they have come to your home, office etc:

Sorry, I didn’t realize you had visitors.

We had friends to stay over the weekend.

23 . EVENT if you have an event such as a meeting, party, or concert, it happens because you have organized it:

We’re having a party on Saturday – you’re very welcome to come.

24 . EFFECT to cause a particular result:

a mistake that could have disastrous results

Cardew was having a bad influence on the other students.

25 . OPPORTUNITY used to say that an opportunity or choice is available for you:

If you have the chance, you should go and see it – it’s a really good film.

Women managers have a choice as to whether they wear trousers or a skirt.

Last year I had the honour of meeting the Duke of Edinburgh.

26 . BABY if a woman has a baby, it is born from her body:

Anna insisted on having the baby at home.

27 . MAKE SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING [not in progressive]

a) to affect someone in a way that makes them start doing something

have somebody laughing/crying etc

Within minutes he had the whole audience laughing and clapping.

b) to persuade or order someone to do something

have somebody doing something

She had me doing all kinds of jobs for her.

have somebody do something especially American English :

I’ll have Hudson show you to your room.

28 . have done with something to finish or settle an argument or a difficult situation:

I should throw you out now and have done with it.

29 . rumour/legend/word has it used when you are reporting what people say or what a story says:

Rumour has it that Kim is not his child.

30 . have (got) something/somebody (all) to yourself if you have a place, time, or person all to yourself, you do not have to share them with anyone else:

He couldn’t wait to have Beth all to himself.

It was the first time I’d had a room to myself.

31 . SEX informal to have sex with someone:

I expect she’s had lots of men.

32 . have it off/away with somebody British English informal to have sex with someone

• • •


33 . can/could/may I have say this to politely ask someone to give you something:

Can I have the bill, please?

Could we have our ball back?

34 . I’ll have/we’ll have say this to ask for something that you have chosen in a restaurant or shop:

I’ll have a T-bone steak and chips, please.

35 . OFFERING SOMEBODY SOMETHING used to offer something to someone:

Have another sandwich.

Won’t you have a drink before you go?

Please have a seat, and the doctor will be right with you.

36 . NOT ALLOW won’t/can’t have something used to say that someone will not allow something to happen:

They’re trying to play tricks on me again, but I won’t have it.

won’t/can’t have somebody doing something

I won’t have you walking home all by yourself.

We can’t have people wandering about on private land.

37 . somebody had (got) it coming used to say that you are not sorry that something bad has happened to someone, because they deserved it:

I’m not surprised his wife left him – he’s had it coming for years.

38 . I’ve got it used to say you have suddenly thought of the solution to a problem or that you suddenly understand a situation

39 . you have me there ( also you’ve got me there ) used to say that you do not know the answer to a question:

‘What makes you think women can’t do that kind of work?’ He scratched his head. ‘Well, now, you’ve got me there.’

40 . I’ll have you know used to start to tell someone something when you are annoyed with them:

I’ll have you know you’re insulting the woman I love.

41 . have (got) it in for somebody to want to make life difficult for someone because you dislike them:

Dean thinks his teachers have it in for him.

42 . somebody/something has had it

a) if someone has had it, they are going to fail or die, or be in serious trouble:

Press the wrong button and you’ve had it.

b) if someone has had it, they are very tired or annoyed and cannot continue with something:

I can’t believe he’s done it again. I’ve had it with him!

c) British English if something has had it, it no longer works and cannot be repaired:

The engine’s had it.

43 . be not having any (of that) to refuse to agree to something, listen to someone etc:

I tried to explain to her, but she just wasn’t having any of it.

44 . somebody has been had used to say that someone has been deceived, for example by being tricked into paying too much:

You paid £200? You’ve been had!

have (got) something against somebody/something phrasal verb

to dislike or be opposed to someone or something for a particular reason:

I don’t know what it is, but Roger seems to have something against women.

I can’t see what you’ve got against the idea.

I have nothing against foreigners (=have no reason to dislike them) .

have (got) somebody in phrasal verb British English

if you have someone in, they are doing some work in your home, for example building work:

We’ve had the builders in, so everything’s in a mess.

have on

1 . have (got) something on to be wearing a piece of clothing or type of clothing:

He had his best suit on.

Jimmy had nothing on but his socks.

2 . have (got) the TV/radio/washing machine etc on if you have your television, radio etc on, you have switched it on and it is working:

Billie has the radio on all day long.

3 . be having somebody on especially British English to be trying to make someone believe something that is not true, especially as a joke:

Don’t believe a word he says. He’s having you on!

4 . have (got) something on British English to have arranged to do something, go somewhere etc, especially when this means you cannot do something else:

Sorry, I can’t help you this weekend – I’ve got too much on already.

5 . have (got) something on somebody to know about something bad that someone has done:

What do the police have on him?

6 . have (got) nothing on somebody/something informal to not be nearly as good as someone or something else:

Rock ‘n’ roll has got nothing on these African rhythms.

have something out phrasal verb

1 . to have a tooth etc removed by a medical operation

2 . have it out (with somebody) informal to settle a disagreement or difficult situation by talking to the person involved, especially when you are angry with them:

I’m going round to his house to have it out with him.

have somebody over ( also have somebody round especially British English ) phrasal verb

if you have someone over, they come to your house for a meal, drink etc because you have invited them:

We must have you over for dinner before we leave.

have somebody up phrasal verb [usually passive] British English informal

to make someone go to a court of law because you think they have committed a crime

have somebody up for something

Last year he was had up for drunken driving.

III. have 3 S1 W3 BrE AmE verb , have to do something ( also have got to do something especially British English )

1 . if you have to do something, you must do it because it is necessary or because someone makes you do it:

We don’t have to rush – there’s plenty of time.

I hate having to get up early in the morning.

If you earn more than £5,000, you will have to pay tax.

I’ve got to be at the hospital at 4 o'clock.

It’ll have to be on a Sunday. I’ll be working every other day.


In writing, people often prefer to say someone is forced to do something or is obliged to do something, as these sound more formal than have to do something:

▪ They had to pay tax on the full amount. ➔ They were obliged to pay tax on the full amount.

▪ | Many businesses have had to close. ➔ Many businesses have been forced to close.

2 . used to say that it is important that something happens, or that something must happen if something else is to happen:

There has to be an end to the violence.

You’ve got to believe me!

There will have to be a complete ceasefire before the Government will agree to talks.

You have to be good to succeed in this game.

3 . used to tell someone how to do something:

First of all you have to mix the flour and the butter.

4 . used to say that you are sure that something will happen or something is true:

House prices have to go up sooner or later.

This has to be a mistake.

You have got to be joking!

No one else could have done it – it had to be Neville.

5 . used to suggest that someone should do something because you think it would be enjoyable or useful:

You’ll have to come and meet my wife some time.

6 . spoken used when something annoying happens in a way that things always seem to happen:

Of course it had to happen today, when all the shops are shut.

7 . spoken used to say that only one thing or person is good enough or right for someone:

For Francesca it has to be the Ritz – nowhere else will do.

8 . do you have to do something? spoken used to ask someone to stop doing something that annoys you:

Lieutenant, do you have to keep repeating everything I’ve just said?

9 . I have to say/admit/confess spoken used to show that you are making an honest statement even though it may be embarrassing for you:

I have to say I don’t know the first thing about computers.

⇨ ↑ must 1

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.