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Have vs. Did: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 5, 2023
'Have' denotes possession or necessity, while 'did' is the past tense of 'do', indicating an action performed in the past.

Key Differences

Have' is primarily a verb used to express possession, ownership, or the need to perform an action. It's versatile, often employed in various grammatical constructions. On the other hand, 'did' is the simple past tense of 'do', specifically used to indicate an action that was completed in the past.
'Have' can also function as an auxiliary verb in perfect tenses, showing a link with the past and present. In contrast, 'did' serves as a past tense marker and an auxiliary in negative and interrogative sentences, emphasizing or questioning past actions.
In terms of usage, 'have' frequently appears in expressions that relate to life experiences, obligations, or illnesses. 'Did', however, is used to refer back to a specific time or occasion in the past, often to emphasize or ask about that past action.
The verb 'have' can be used in various tenses and is often part of idiomatic expressions. 'Did', being in the past tense, has a more limited scope of use, primarily dealing with past events or actions.
'Have' can convey a sense of continuity or ongoing relevance, while 'did' always places actions firmly in the past, with no direct implication of their influence on the present.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Expresses possession or necessity
Past tense of 'do', indicates completed action


Used in various tenses
Only used in past tense

Role in Sentence

Can be a main or auxiliary verb
Mainly auxiliary in questions/negatives, otherwise main verb

Usage in Expressions

Common in idiomatic expressions and obligations
Used to emphasize or inquire about past actions


Can imply ongoing relevance
Indicates actions solely in the past

Have and Did Definitions


I have a car.


Negative Structure.
She did not go to the party.


They have traveled to France.


Did you really win the race?


Suffering From.
She has a cold.


I did tell you about the meeting.


Auxiliary Verb.
We have seen that movie.


Past Action.
He did the homework yesterday.


You have to study for the exam.


Interrogative Structure.
Did they arrive on time?


Past tense of do1.


Past participle of do


Is 'have' used in different tenses?

Yes, 'have' is used in various tenses.

Can 'have' be used as an auxiliary verb?

Yes, it's used as an auxiliary in perfect tenses.

Does 'have' imply ongoing action?

It can imply continuity or relevance to the present.

What does 'have' signify in a sentence?

It signifies possession, obligation, or necessity.

Can 'have' indicate experiences?

Yes, it often denotes life experiences.

Can 'did' be used for emphasis?

Yes, especially in interrogative and negative sentences.

Does 'did' imply actions in the present?

No, it solely refers to past actions.

What does 'did' indicate?

'Did' is the past tense of 'do', indicating past actions.

Is 'did' used as an auxiliary verb?

Yes, in questions and negatives.

Can 'did' change the meaning of a sentence?

Yes, it can emphasize or question past actions.

Is 'did' used in various tenses?

No, it's only used in the past tense.

What role does 'did' play in past tense?

It's the main verb for past actions or auxiliary in questions/negatives.

Is 'have' used in negative sentences?

Yes, as an auxiliary, e.g., "I haven't seen him."

Can 'have' indicate past actions?

Yes, especially as an auxiliary in perfect tenses.

Can 'have' be omitted in some expressions?

In informal speech, sometimes, e.g., "I got a car."

Can 'have' imply a condition or illness?

Yes, e.g., "I have a headache."

Is 'did' used in idiomatic expressions?

Less frequently than 'have'.

How is 'have' used in questions?

As an auxiliary, e.g., "Have you eaten?"

Does 'did' always refer to the distant past?

Not necessarily distant, but always to the past.

Is 'did' used in perfect tenses?

No, it's not used in perfect tenses.
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
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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