The context is that a doctor is asking about somebody's child's symptoms of influenza.

Is this question correct: "What symptoms has Anne?" If it's incorrect, then why?

It looks strange to me, I would rather ask "What symptoms does Anne have?" but don't know why.

  • This article might be helpful.
    – fluffy
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 9:18
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    There are two verbs have. One means 'possess' and the other is an auxiliary verb for the perfect construction. The auxiliary have inverts in a question when it's the first auxiliary (Have you considered chartered accountancy?), and in the UK, so does the 'possess' have (Have you any questions?), but in the US the 'possess' have is not treated like an auxiliary, but undergoes Do-Support (Do you have any questions?), like any other meaningful verb (Do you like mayonnaise?). So in US English, have is a semi-auxiliary; in the UK, it's an auxiliary. Commented May 18, 2013 at 16:46
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    @JohnLawler: though I have been watching non-auxiliary have worm its way into British life over the last fifty years. I even find myself saying Do you have sometimes.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


As John Lawler says in a comment, this use is possible in British English. But even in Britain, it is rather old-fashioned or literary. The normal British form would be

What symptoms has Anne got?

  • Pretty common in the US, too. Commented May 19, 2013 at 18:58
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    @JohnLawler -- I think of "have got" as a Briticism. I think most Americans would say "What symptoms does Anne have?" Commented May 19, 2013 at 19:02
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    The have/has is normally contracted lost unless it's been moved, as in a question. What's she got? Anne's got symptoms of leprosy and tuberculosis. Note that What's she got? is pronounced /wətʃi'gat/, exactly the same as What she got. Commented May 19, 2013 at 19:05
  • But a hundred years ago, even in the U.S. one would have asked "What symptoms has Anne?" See this Google Ngram Commented May 19, 2013 at 19:44
  • Thanks, I see it's different in British and American English... Is there an "International" version in this case?
    – camcam
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 15:34

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