Have Vs Had

Have Vs Had: Complete Grammatical Guide [2024 Method]

Hey dear English learners. I’m here again with another challenging subject in English grammar.

If you are an intermediate or upper-level English learner, you may have problem when to use have and when to use had as the main verb or the auxiliary verb in your sentences.

Today all of your questions will be answered here. So, follow me through this interesting lesson.


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Have Vs Had As a Main Verb

Actually, “have” and “had” are different tenses of the verb “to have”. “Have” is the present participle and “had” is the past participle.

Therefore, when talking about the present time, we use “have” and when talking about the past, we use “had”.

Now, let’s review the meanings and usages of the word. The first usage of the word as a main verb is to express ownership.

• I have a red car (simple present tense)
• They have two dogs. (simple present tense)
• I had a red car. (simple past tense)
• They had two dogs. (simple past tense)
The second usage of the word “have” as a main verb is to express Events, actions, experiences and activities.

• We have a break at 10 am. (Simple present tense)
• I have an exam today. (Simple present tense)
• We had a break at 10 am. (Simple past tense)
• I had an exam yesterday. (Simple past tense)
The third usage of the verb is for Eating food and meals.

• I usually have coffee and croissants for breakfast. (simple present tense)
• They usually have dinner together. (simple present time)
• We had a wonderful meal in the new restaurant. (simple past tense)
• I had a sandwich before going to the class. (simple past tense)


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Have Vs Had As an Auxiliary Verb

First, let’s review the meaning and uses of auxiliary verbs. Auxiliary verbs, also known as helping verbs, are minor verbs that support the sentence’s main verb to create complex grammatical concepts like aspects of time or modality.

The three main auxiliary verbs are be, do, and have. However, all three of these can also be used separately as action verbs. When you see one of these verbs in a sentence, look for a second verb to determine if it’s being used as an action verb or an auxiliary verb.

In the following, you are going to learn how and when to use “have” and its past participle “had” in different tenses.

Well, “have” as an auxiliary verb is used in five conditions: the present perfect simple, the present perfect continuous, the future perfect simple, the future perfect continuous and perfect modal tenses. As you know, for the third person singular, “have” is changed to “has”.


Present perfect simple:

• I have eaten pasta today.
• Sha has received the letter this morning.
• We have accepted their invitation.
• Our dog has not eaten anything since last night.

Present perfect continuous:

• We have been working all day.
• I have been learning English for 8 years.
• My mother has been working as a chef for more than three years now.
• My roommate has been studying since this morning.


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Future perfect simple:

• I will have done my homework by the time you arrive.
• They will achieved their goal by this time next year.
• Will you have finished your course by this time next year?
• I guess she will have done her homework by tomorrow night.

Future perfect continuous:

• They will have been running for 5 hours when the bell rings.
• She will have been studying mathematics for 20 years when she gets 80.
• I will have been teaching English for fifteen years by next June.
• We will have been traveling around the world for 3 years by the end of this month.

Perfect modals:

• They are so late. They must have missed the flight.
• I made a mistake. I should have checked everything before leaving the office.
• I should have prepared my thesis by now.
• If she knew, she would have told you.

Now, “Had” as an auxiliary verb is used in two conditions: past perfect simple and past perfect continuous.


Past perfect simple:

• She had written the letter before noon.
• We had arrived home when she called.
• I had not finished my writing when the time was over.
• Had he called you before?


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Past perfect continuous:

• I had been working all day.
• They had been shopping all the evening.
• We had not been wasting time in the game.
• Had you been studying so hard before?

“Have Had” or “Had Had”?

When using perfect tenses, you may be confused when you see “have had” and “had had” in a sentence. Well, there is no need to worry about it anymore.

This happens when the verb “have” is used both as the auxiliary verb and the main verb in a sentence.


I have had lunch with my friend. (present perfect simple)
He has had a hamburger. (present perfect simple)
If I had had any idea, I would have told you. (past perfect simple)
They would have come if they hadn’t had a change of heart. (past perfect simple)


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Concluding Note

Today I told you everything you need to know about using “have’ and “had” as an auxiliary and as a main verb.

First, the meaning and uses of the verb “to have” as a main verb was explained. Then, we reviewed the meaning and usages of “have” and “had” as auxiliary verbs.

We also reviewed a lot of examples regarding each tense so that you learn this subject better. At the end, confusing usages of “have” and “had” were explained for you.

I hope this lesson has been interesting to you. If you find my lessons useful and enjoyable, introduce this page to your friends so they can benefit from these lessons as well. Visit my page again for more interesting English lessons.

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