When to use has, had and have?

by Nick

I always have problems thinking about the use of has, have, had in a sentence. Could you please help me with this? Thanks - Nick

Hi Nick. The difference is in terms of tense and subject.

First, you have to make sure that you understand the tense that you are using. For example; If you use has alone it is referring to the "third person" and saying that that person possesses something.
(She has a beautiful car.)

When we use have we are either talking about ourselves or the general idea of possessing something
(I have a great husband. It would be nice to have a bigger house).

Had on the other hand is referring to something that was possessed in the past...but not now.
(I had a good job...but now I don't).

Generally speaking the only difference is the time frame or tense that you need to use and also who is being referred to.

Here are some more examples to help you see the difference.


I have a great job.
I have an Oxford dictionary.
I have blue eyes.
I have a great boss.


She has a horrible job.
He has the biggest oxford dictionary.
She has green eyes.
He has a mean boss.


I had a great job before the economic crisis. Now I am unemployed.
He had an Oxford dictionary but someone stole it last week.
I had blue eyes when I was born but they changed to brown when I was two years old.
I had a great boss in my old company.

I hope that helps you see the difference Nick.


Comments for When to use has, had and have?

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Dec 04, 2014
Have/Has Usage
by: Bobbie

Is this sentence correct: There aren’t as many repeated sessions as there have (or has???) been in the past.

I appreciate your answer. Thanks.

Hey Bobbie...HAVE is the correct answer. -Diana

Nov 24, 2014
A thanks.
by: Kwihui

Thank you. I had no idea that there were others with the same confusion of the usage of has, had and have. It is simple enough with the present tense, have, but the other two always confused me. Being that the English was my second language, I have not learned it properly, always struggling which better to use in writing and speaking. Keep having to recheck myself. But hopefully this time around it will stick to my brain like glue.
Thanks again for the clarification.

Feb 14, 2014
pls which is appropriate
by: Anonymous

The country now has a civilian or democratic government, which has (correct) been in existence since...


The country now has a civilian or democratic government, which have (incorrect) been in existence since...


Nov 12, 2013
Easy way
by: Anonymous

This sentence is very simple. Everyone can easily understand when we need to use has, have and had.

Apr 01, 2013
Great example
by: Anonymous

Thanks to clear my confusion on the use of Have, has and had.

Mar 18, 2013
by: Anonymous

easily understandable...............

Feb 27, 2013
by: Anonymous

thank u for helping from my bad grammar. it is useful n helpful to me.thank u again.

Dec 09, 2012
Have or not have
by: Kim

Which of these sentences is more correct?

- I have performed a task.
- I performed a task.


Dec 05, 2012
Using have vs has
by: Anonymous

I am confused when using "have or has" for the following examples.

"Your forms has or have been processed."

"Your promotion has or have been processed."

Has is used with singular nouns
Have is used with plural nouns.

"Forms" = plural
Promotion = singular

The forms have been signed.
The promotion has been process.
The forms have been mailed.
The promotion has been rejected.

Oct 13, 2012
use of has, have and had
by: Anonymous

Educational! Thanks to everybody here, especially Diana.

Sep 05, 2012
present/past/ negative forms of the verb
by: metlyn

what about- you, they, we
and the negative forms

Jul 14, 2012
Is there such thing as "she have been/ he have been?'
by: Yoona

Good day! I'm quite confused in understanding the be verbs have been and has been...



I'm really confused.


**************************************************Hi Yoona,

Whenever you use "he or she" you are using the third person singular so you would have to use has or had in those cases.

She has been working for that company for 2 years.
He has been studying English for a year.

As for the other examples you could have to use has.

She has a wallet.
He has a car.

When do we use have? When you are referring to a group of people including yourself.

We have a nice house.
We have a new car.
We have been studying English for a year.
We have been working at the same office for 5 months.

I hope that helps. -Diana

Jun 27, 2012
Use of had
by: anupma

thank you very much for providing correct guidance to the English learner.

May 12, 2012
by: raheel


Mar 14, 2012
thank you
by: mayank sikarwal

this helped me a lot.... its very easy and correct.... u are a good teacher
god bless you

Oct 16, 2011
by: Anonymous

nice and thank you

Feb 24, 2011
use of have been ,has been ,had been.
by: Anonymous

I always get confused while speaking or writing that where to use have been, has been, had been

Jan 07, 2011
has been, had been, have been
by: Anonymous

I have trouble with using has been, have been, had been.. Could you show me how and when to use these in a sentence?

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