Difference Wiki

Had vs. Have: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on December 15, 2023
"Had" is the past tense of "have," indicating past possession or action; "have" is present tense, denoting current possession or necessity.

Key Differences

"Had" is the past tense and past participle form of "have." It is used to indicate possession, necessity, or action that occurred in the past. For instance, "She had a car" implies ownership in the past. Conversely, "have" is the present tense form, used for current possession, necessity, or action. An example is "I have a car," signifying present ownership.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023
In terms of grammatical structure, "had" often appears in past perfect tense constructions, as in "They had finished the project before the deadline." This usage indicates a completed action in the past before another past action. On the other hand, "have" appears in present perfect tense, such as in "They have finished the project," which refers to a recently completed action with relevance to the present.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023
"Had" is also used in hypothetical or conditional statements, often following "if" or "wish," to denote unreal situations in the past. For example, "If I had known, I would have acted differently." In contrast, "have" can indicate obligation or necessity in the present, as in "You have to complete your work today."
Huma Saeed
Dec 15, 2023
In questions and negatives, "had" is used without an auxiliary verb in the past perfect, like "Had you ever seen such a thing?" Meanwhile, "have" in the present perfect or present simple requires an auxiliary, as in "Have you seen my keys?" or "I do not have my keys."
Janet White
Dec 15, 2023
"Had" can also function as an auxiliary verb in past perfect continuous tense, exemplifying duration before a point in the past: "They had been waiting for hours." "Have," as an auxiliary, is used in present perfect continuous, as in "They have been waiting for hours," highlighting the duration of an action continuing into the present.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Tense

Indicates past action or possession.
Indicates present action or possession.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Example in Sentence

"I had a great time yesterday."
"I have a great time whenever I go there."
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Use in Perfect Tenses

Used in past perfect tense.
Used in present perfect tense.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Conditional Forms

Used in hypothetical or past conditions.
Used for present conditions or obligations.
Harlon Moss
Dec 15, 2023

Question Formation

Used without auxiliary in past questions.
Requires auxiliary in present questions.
Janet White
Dec 15, 2023
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Had and Have Definitions

Had

Indicates past necessity.
He had to finish his homework by evening.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 21, 2023

Have

Used in present perfect tense.
They have completed the project.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 21, 2023

Had

Past tense of have.
She had a dog when she was a child.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 21, 2023

Have

Expresses obligation or necessity.
You have to finish your assignment.
Janet White
Nov 21, 2023

Had

Expresses a condition in the past.
If I had known, I would have told you.
Sara Rehman
Nov 21, 2023

Have

Indicates present possession.
I have a book.
Huma Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Had

Used for wishes about the past.
I wish I had gone to the party.
Sara Rehman
Nov 21, 2023

Have

Used to describe experiences.
I have been to France.
Sara Rehman
Nov 21, 2023

Had

Used in past perfect tense.
They had left before we arrived.
Huma Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Have

Forms the present perfect continuous tense.
We have been waiting for an hour.
Harlon Moss
Nov 21, 2023

Had

Past tense and past participle of have.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Have

To be in possession of
Already had a car.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Had

Simple past tense and past participle of have|cap=1.
This morning I had an egg for breakfast.
A good time was had by all.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Have

To possess as a characteristic, quality, or function
Has a beard.
Had a great deal of energy.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Had

Used to form the past perfect tense, expressing an action that took place prior to a reference point that is itself in the past.
I felt sure that I had seen him before.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Had

As past subjunctive: would have.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

FAQs

When do I use 'had'?

Use 'had' for actions or situations in the past, especially in the past perfect tense.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Is 'have' used in perfect tenses?

Yes, 'have' is used as an auxiliary verb in present perfect tenses.
Janet White
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'had' be used in conditional sentences?

Yes, 'had' is often used in conditional or hypothetical sentences about the past.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

How do I form a question with 'have'?

Form questions with 'have' by using auxiliary verbs, like "Have you seen my book?"
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Is 'had' used in the past perfect continuous tense?

Yes, 'had' is used as an auxiliary verb in past perfect continuous constructions.
Harlon Moss
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'have' be used as a main verb?

Yes, 'have' can function as a main verb indicating possession.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Is it correct to say "I had a cold last week"?

Yes, this is a correct use of 'had' to indicate past possession or state.
Janet White
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'had' indicate a past necessity?

Yes, 'had' can express a necessity or requirement that existed in the past.
Huma Saeed
Dec 15, 2023

What does 'have' mean?

'Have' indicates present possession, experience, or obligation.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Is 'had' used in subjunctive moods?

Yes, 'had' is used in subjunctive forms, especially in wishes or hypotheticals about the past.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'have' be used to talk about obligations?

Yes, 'have' is often used to express obligations or duties in the present.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'have' indicate experiences?

Yes, 'have' is often used to talk about life experiences, as in "I have traveled to Japan."
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

What is the difference between 'had' and 'have' in negatives?

'Had' is used without auxiliary verbs in negatives for past perfect, while 'have' needs an auxiliary in present tense.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

How do 'had' and 'have' differ in auxiliary use?

'Had' is used as an auxiliary verb in past perfect tenses, while 'have' is used in present perfect tenses.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'had' be omitted in some sentences?

In informal language, 'had' can sometimes be omitted, but it's generally necessary for clarity.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

How is 'had' used in the past perfect tense?

'Had' is used with the past participle of a verb to form the past perfect tense.
Harlon Moss
Dec 15, 2023

Is 'have' used in forming present perfect continuous tense?

Yes, 'have' is used with 'been' and the present participle to form this tense.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 15, 2023

When is 'have' used in questions?

'Have' is used in questions about present possession, experiences, or obligations.
Janet White
Dec 15, 2023

Can 'had' express regret about the past?

Yes, 'had' is often used in expressing regrets about past actions or situations.
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023

Is 'have' used in idiomatic expressions?

Yes, 'have' appears in many idiomatic expressions like "have a good time."
Sara Rehman
Dec 15, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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