Have vs Has vs Had

The verb is To Have

Have – can be used to show the present tense
example: I have a cat.

Has – is also present tense, but third person
example: Sam has a cat.

Had – can be used to show the past tense
example: I had a cat when I was young, but now I don’t.

Sometimes it isn’t as simple. Beyond the past, present and future, there is the present-perfect tense. It indicates a time in the past that is indefinite, or a situation that happened in the past but also continues in the present. It uses have or has together with another verb, like this:
example: Sam has worked at the store for ten years.
example: I have owned a dictionary since Grade 1.

When you are using had, you may be writing in the past-perfect tense. As explained by the Chicago Manual of Style:
“The past-perfect (or pluperfect) tense is formed by using had with the principal verb’s past participle {had walked} {had drunk}. It refers to an act, state, or condition that was completed before another specified or implicit past time or past action {the engineer had driven the train to the roundhouse before we arrived} {by the time we stopped to check the map, the rain had begun falling} {the movie had already ended}”

Had to or have to can be used to indicate obligation.
example: You have to take a test before you can have a driver’s license.

Published by McSpellCheck

I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba, and have experience with proofreading, creating reports and editing.

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