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Is this a correct sentence?

Have we a menu?

It sounds a little bit strange to me.

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Have we" is an idiom most familiar to British English, interchangeable with "do we have". It may sound strange to some speakers, but I would not go so far as to call it incorrect, reading the "do" as implied.

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If 'have we [...]' is said with a British accent, it sounds OK. Posh, but not ungrammatical. If it's said with any other accent, it just sounds totally incorrect. Moral of the story: if in doubt, just say "do we have [...]". –  Marthaª Mar 9 '11 at 20:43
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At the very least, someone using the idiom who does not speak with a British accent makes an impression that they're trying to come across posh by sounding British. –  chaos Mar 9 '11 at 20:45
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As someone brought up on fairly ‘high’ BrE, this example sounds slightly awkward to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but it’s not a case where I’d expect this inversion — I can imagine my mother asking “Have we any lemons?”, but not “Have we a menu?”. Generally I’d agree with @chaos, though: this certainly isn’t incorrect, though it might sound a bit stilted. –  PLL Mar 9 '11 at 21:12
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Reminds me of the priest's line in The Princess Bride, "Have you . . . the wing?" I know subject-verb inversions in declarative senteces should usually be avoided. As Bryan A. Garner argues, "Inversions are probably intended to signal emphasis, but in fact they often convey preciosity" (and, I would add, a distinct Yoda-esque quality). Inversions in questions make sense more often, but this example still sounds stilted. –  Callithumpian Mar 9 '11 at 21:40
    
Semantically, "Have we a menu" matches perfectly with accepted grammar in Dutch and German. I suspect that this form, used in English, is a left over from the common parent-language. –  oosterwal Mar 9 '11 at 23:58
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