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Has vs. Had: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 28, 2023
"Has" is the present tense form of "have," while "Had" is the past tense form.

Key Differences

"Has" serves as the third person singular present tense of the verb "have." It's employed when referencing a singular noun or pronoun like he, she, or it. For instance, "She has a book" implies a current possession.
"Had" represents the past tense form of "have." Regardless of the subject, be it singular or plural, "had" indicates an action or condition that occurred in the past. "They had a meeting" shows a prior event.
When used as auxiliary verbs, "has" and "had" also play distinct roles. "Has" assists in forming the present perfect tense, denoting actions or conditions beginning in the past and continuing into the present. "He has lived here for years" emphasizes ongoing duration.
In contrast, "had" helps shape the past perfect tense, illustrating an action or condition that happened before another past action. In "She had left before I arrived," "had left" reveals the sequence of events.
Understanding the distinction between "has" and "had" is essential for correct tense usage. Mastery over these terms enhances clear communication, reducing the risk of temporal confusion.

Comparison Chart



Usage with subjects

Third person singular (he, she, it)
All subjects (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)

Form of "Have"

Present tense form
Past tense form

Auxiliary use

Forms present perfect tense
Forms past perfect tense


She has a cat.
They had a dog.

Has and Had Definitions


Has denotes possession in the present for third person singular.
She has an umbrella.


Had serves as an auxiliary verb in the past perfect tense.
She had seen the movie before.


Has functions as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect tense.
He has traveled to France.


Had signifies past relationships or affiliations.
She had a mentor.


Has indicates a current obligation.
He has to finish his homework.


Had reveals past obligations.
I had to call him yesterday.


Has signifies relationships or affiliations.
She has a brother.


Had describes past physical or emotional ailments.
I had a cold last week.


Has describes physical or emotional ailments.
He has a headache.


Had indicates past possession for all subjects.
They had a car.


Third person singular present tense of have.


Past tense and past participle of have.


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.


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.


As past subjunctive: would have.


See Have.
And lever me is be pore and trewe.[And more agreeable to me it is to be poor and true.]
Him had been lever to be syke.[To him it had been preferable to be sick.]
For him was lever have at his bed's headTwenty bookes, clad in black or red, . . . Than robes rich, or fithel, or gay sawtrie.
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
You were best hang yourself.
Me rather had my heart might feel your loveThan my unpleased eye see your courtesy.
I hadde levere than my scherte,That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I.
I had as lief not be as live to beIn awe of such a thing as I myself.
I had rather be a dog and bay the moon,Than such a Roman.
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.


Is "Has" present or past tense?

"Has" is present tense.

Can "Has" indicate obligation?

Yes, like in "He has to study."

When do we use "Has"?

"Has" is used with third person singular subjects like he, she, or it.

Can "Had" be used with any subject?

Yes, "Had" can be used with all subjects.

What tense is "Had"?

"Had" is past tense.

Which is correct: "She has went" or "She has gone"?

"She has gone" is correct.

How is "Has" used in perfect tense?

"Has" forms the present perfect tense, e.g., "She has eaten."

What is the role of "Had" in perfect tense?

"Had" forms the past perfect tense, e.g., "He had gone."

Can "Had" show obligation in the past?

Yes, like in "They had to leave early."

How do you describe current possession with "Has"?

"She has a new book."

Is "Has" used with plural subjects?

No, "Has" is used with third person singular subjects.

Can "Has" be used to describe ailments?

Yes, like in "She has a fever."

How do you indicate past possession with "Had"?

"He had a blue car."

Can "Had" be used for past habits?

Yes, like in "He had a habit of reading before bed."

How does "Had" express past actions before another past action?

Using past perfect, e.g., "They had left before you called."

Can "Had" indicate a condition in the past?

Yes, like in "If she had known, she would have come."

What comes after "Has" in present perfect tense?

A past participle, e.g., "has seen."

What follows "Had" in past perfect tense?

A past participle, e.g., "had taken."

Is "Has" used for ongoing actions?

Yes, in present perfect continuous, e.g., "She has been working."

How do you use "Had" for past ailments?

Like in "He had a sore throat yesterday."
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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