I haven’t or I don’t have

Have is an interesting verb in that it serves many purposes. Sometimes it is used as an auxiliary verb. For example, when we use have to make perfect tense forms, we use it as an auxiliary verb. Examples are given below.

  • I have eaten breakfast.
  • She has broken her arm.
  • I have seen that film.

In the three sentences given above, have doesn’t really have a meaning. It merely helps the other verbs (eat, break and see) to form their present perfect tense forms.

Have can also be used an ordinary (main) verb. In this case, it has a meaning. The ordinary verb have is used to express ideas such as possession, personal characteristics, relationships etc.

  • He has a fleet of cars. (He owns those cars.)
  • She has a nice personality. (Personal characteristics)
  • They have a daughter. (Relationships)

In all of these three sentences, have is the main verb. As you can see, there are no other verbs in these sentences.

When have is used as an auxiliary verb, we make questions by putting it before the subject. It is quite simple.

  • She has written a novel. (Statement)
  • Has she written a novel? (Question)
  • They have arrived. (Statement)
  • Have they arrived? (Question)

When have is used as an ordinary verb, we make questions and negative forms with do.

Study the examples given below.

  • She has a daughter. (Statement)
  • She does not have a daughter. (Negative) (NOT She hasn’t a daughter.)
  • Does she have a daughter? (Question) (NOT Hasn’t she a daughter?)
  • They have many friends.
  • They do not have many friends.
  • Do they have many friends?

Sometimes, you might hear people saying ‘She hasn’t a daughter’ or ‘I haven’t a car’, but remember that these forms are incorrect and very unusual.