other meanings of HAVE in English

Other meanings of HAVE in English [Vocabulary Lesson]

Today’s ‘Everyday English’ lesson was inspired by a question a student of mine had. We’re going to talk about other meanings of HAVE in English, because I realized that HAVE can be a pretty complex verb. My student asked me about the sentence, “thanks for having me” because she learned that HAVE is a stative verb, a non-action verb. So, why, in this case, is the verb HAVE in the -ing form?


HAVE is a complex verb, because it has a lot of meanings. In fact, the Learner’s Dictionary gives over 20 definitions and meanings. This doesn’t include phrasal verbs and expressions. Some of those meanings of HAVE are stative (non-action), and others are examples of regular action verbs that can be in the -ing form.
So today, you’re going to learn:
  • other meanings of HAVE in English
    • including action verb examples in the -ING form
  • how to practice them for your own English conversations

Let’s start with watching the replay of today’s LIVE lesson on YouTube. Continue reading below for the lesson notes.


First of all,  the most common meaning of HAVE is when we talk about possession or ownership. Here, the verb HAVE is a non-action verb and we never use the -ing form.

I have red hair.

I have green eyes

You have brown hair.

We have a cat.

They have 2 cars.

She has a lot of clothes.

 Let’s review 5 other meanings of HAVE

Experience (action)

Another way we can use HAVE is like the verb “experience”.

My background has changed again. That’s because I am having a hard time deciding where my office should be. 

Since this is an action that is in progress, that is happening right now, we have the verb in the -ing form.

I am having so much fun here! Are you having fun?

I am having fun teaching you today.

We are having a great class!

Have like “eat” 

We can also use have in the -ING form as a synonym of to eat.

I was having some oatmeal before class.

I was having breakfast.

She is having coffee.

We are having lasagna for dinner tonight.

This meaning of HAVE is often used to order in restaurants.

The waiter says, “can I get you something to drink?”

You can reply,  “I’ll have a water.” Or… “I’m having the drink special tonight.” 

Accepting an offer or an invitation

Imagine this situation: you go to someone’s house and they might offer you something. For example:

Would anyone like a piece of cake?

You can respond with HAVE.

Yes! I’ll have one! I’ll have 2 pieces of cake. 🙂     

HAVE can also be used to accept an invitation or to thank someone for an invitation.

Thank you for having us.

Thanks for having me (inviting me) over for dinner.

To give birth

In addition, we can use HAVE when we talk about giving birth or being pregnant.

I am having my baby right now.

We are having twins.

*Note: we often use this in the past tense to talk about the experience of birth:

I am not pregnant now, I already had my baby. 

To allow something (not allow)

Finally, HAVE can be used when you need to allow something or not allow. This is often used negatively.

  I am not having any of that at my house!

We are not having drugs in this house!

other meanings of HAVE

Practice makes perfect

In addition to make your own sentence examples, you can answer the following questions using HAVE. Practice using the meanings we reviewed today. You can comment below on the blog or under the video on Youtube.

  1. When was the last time you said, “I’m having a great time!” ?
    1. Example answer: The last time I said I was having a great time was last weekend on the sailboat!
  2. What time are you having lunch today?
  3. What are you having for dinner tonight?
  4. When was the last time you said, “thank you for having me”?
  5. Are you having a baby soon?
  6. What are you not having at your house this weekend?
  7. What was the last thing you ordered at a restaurant? (You can use the past tense or you can use a sentence like “the last time I was in a restaurant, I said, “I am having the lasagna”)

I hope you enjoyed this Everyday English lesson today. Don’t forget to join me Every Tuesday at 8:30am PST (Los Angeles time zone) on YouTube!

Until next time,

 Happy Studying! ♥

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