How To Use “Have Had”


Hi, how are you? Vanessa here. Have you had a good day today so far?

Many of my English students asked me how to use “have had” correctly. We’ll talk about what you need to know, give you lots of examples, and give you a quiz at the end so you can see how well you understand!

What Is the Present Perfect Tense?

When I asked you the question “Have you had a good day today?”do you know which tense I used? I used the present perfect tense.

It’s important to understand that “have had” is the present perfect tense of the verb have. This tense is used when we talk about the past, when the past has some connection to what is happening now.

How Do We Form the Present Perfect Tense With The Verb Have?

We need to conjugate the helping verb “have” in the present tense with each subject, then add the past participle “had.”

I have had
You have had
He/She/It has had
We have had
They have had

Remember that we often make contractions with this tense.

I’ve had
You’ve had
He’s had/She’s had/It’s had
We’ve had
They’ve had

Contractions are much more common, so train your ear and get used to saying this more and more!

How Do I Use “Have Had” In a Sentence?

Now, let’s focus on the structure of a sentence with “have had.”

I have had a good day today so far.

The subject is I, so we need to use the form “have.” Remember, “has” is only used for he, she, or it. Then add “had,” which is the past participle of the verb.

A lot of students don’t understand how is it possible to use “have” twice in the sentence. They say it doesn’t sound right! Don’t worry! You just have to get used to it. It makes sense to native speakers, and the more you hear it, the easier it will become to use it.

Why Do I Need This Tense?

When you use “have had,” think about things you have experienced. Here are some things that I have experienced, and that I still experience today.

I have had the time of my life traveling around the world.
My experience of traveling around the world has been amazing!
I have had the best time doing it, because it has allowed me to discover new places and a lot of delicious food, too.
I have had the time of my life teaching English, and meeting students from all over the world.
My experience as a teacher has allowed me to meet people from over 100 countries. I have had a great time learning about other cultures and being able to teach people a new language.

“Have Had” Is Common During Job Interviews

During a job interview, the interviewer wants to learn more about you. They want to know if they should hire you.

When I was a new teacher, I remember one of my interviews very well. The interviewer asked me, “What experience have you had teaching people from other countries?”

I said, “I have had experience teaching students from over 100 countries.” And that really helped me during my interview.

Have, Had, Has – I’m Still Confused!

If you are still confused, don’t worry! It takes practice. Let me try to explain it in a different way.

I’m going to give you two sentences. One is in the present tense, and the other one uses the present perfect.

I have a lot of homework. (present tense)
I have had a lot of homework this week. (present perfect tense)

What is the difference between these two sentences? Let’s take a look at the first one.

I have a lot of homework.

This sentence tells you that I have a lot of homework RIGHT NOW. You don’t know if I had homework yesterday, or if I will have homework tomorrow. We are just talking about the present.

In the second example, I have had a lot of homework recently, this week. I am not talking about only the present. Remember, present perfect focuses on actions that began in the past and continue into the present. I have had a lot of homework this week. I had a lot yesterday, and maybe I will have more tomorrow.

More Examples Please!

Read this dialogue between Gabby and me, and watch for examples of “have had.”

Gabby: Vanessa, you’ve had such a long week at work, you deserve a break. Let’s go out tonight!

Vanessa: Thank you, but no thank you. I have had so much to do at work, I’m exhausted. I think I’ll pass on that tonight.

Gabby: I understand. You need to get some rest. Have you had dinner yet? Let me cook something for you.

Vanessa: That’s so nice of you! I know you’ve had a busy week at work, too. How about we just order pizza? Let’s call Domino’s.

Gabby: Good idea! Hey, let’s invite Natalie over! I don’t think she has had pizza in a long time, ever since she has started her diet. Let’s see if we can convince her to have a slice of pizza.

Vanessa: Let’s do it!

Time For a Quiz!

We’re going to ask each other some questions, and you decide whether the answer is correct or not.

  1. Gabby: Vanessa, what are you having for breakfast?
    Vanessa: I have had eggs right now.

No, this is incorrect because “have had” is about the past continuing into the present. We can’t use it with the simple present, which is right now.

  1. Vanessa: Hey Gabby, are you okay? You look really tired.
    Gabby: Yeah, I have had a lot of trouble falling asleep this week.

Yes, this is right! Gabby said she has had a lot of trouble falling asleep this week. That’s something that started in the past and is still going on now. We’ll use the present perfect.

  1. Gabby: Could you tell me about any experience you have had related to this job?
    Vanessa: I’ve had 10 years of experience with web design.

Correct. She’s talking about her experience that started in the past and continues into the present.

  1. Vanessa: I’m so mad!
    Gabby: What’s going on?
    Vanessa: My phone! It died again. It have had so many problems today. I am so over it!

No, this isn’t correct. Using present perfect is correct, but we have to match the subject to the verb, so we need to say “It has had so many problems today.”

How Did You Do on the Quiz?

Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this lesson, you can watch it on YouTube here, and make sure you subscribe to GoNatural English for more great videos! If you’d like to learn more about “have had,” or more about the present perfect tense, check out this post!

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