When I began to study English, about 50 years ago, I was taught to ask, for instance, 'Have you a car?' and, if the answer was negative, to answer 'I have not a car.'

However, when I came back to study English, I learnt that now I should ask 'Do you have a car?' or 'Have you got a car?' and reply 'I do not have a car,' or 'I have not got a car.'

When did this change take place and why?

  • 1
    Maybe you could start here.
    – None
    Nov 16, 2013 at 11:16
  • And here.
    – None
    Nov 16, 2013 at 11:22
  • 4
    Even 50 years ago, you were taught wrong. Nov 16, 2013 at 11:22
  • I've just found this fine discussion on the site, which looks at do-support and even 'support from get' (though 'the auxiliary have being used to support get would be more accurate.) . And also AmE - BrE biases. But not really why these usages fall out of and into favour (other than peer pressure). Note that have in 'I have a bike' or 'I do have a bike' or 'Do you have (own / possess) a bike?' is a main verb; have in 'I have got a bike' is an auxiliary. Nov 16, 2013 at 15:54
  • @Laure Apologies – I assumed these were off-site links as you didn't close-vote. Perhaps a fortunate oversight, as there have been one or two further comments to come forth. Nov 16, 2013 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


The verb have [meaning 'possess; not the auxiliary]:

We make questions and negatives with have in two ways:

normally we use do/does or did for questions :

Do you have plenty of time?

Does she have enough money?

Did they have any useful advice?

and negatives:

I don’t have much time.

She doesn’t have any money.

They didn’t have any advice to offer.

… but we can make questions by putting have, has or had in front of the subject, optionally with 'got' after the subject. Using 'Have you' rather than 'Have you got' with many noun groups, especially short ones, often sounds at least slightly unidiomatic, old-fashioned, or po-faced: Have you got a cold? Have you got some sugar? // (?)Have you a cold? (?)Have you some sugar? The particular noun group seem to be important; 'Have you an appointment?' sounds far more acceptable that 'Have you a cough?'. 'Have you toothache?' and 'Have you ankylosing spondulitis?' sound bizarre.

But note that the have's in 'Have you an appointment?' and 'Have you got an appointment?' are different, being a main verb and an auxiliary respectively.

Have you plenty of time? / Have you got plenty of time? (either sounds fine here)

Had they any useful advice? / Had they got any useful advice? (the first sounds at least as good!?!)

… and we can make negatives by putting n’t, n’t got or not got after have, has or had:

We haven’t much time. // We haven’t got much time. // We have not got much time. // (?)We have not much time.

She hadn’t any money. // She hadn’t got any money. // She had not got any money. // (*/?)She had not any money.

He hasn’t a sister called Liz, has he? // He hasn’t got a sister called Liz, has he? // He has not...

British Council: English Grammar [tweaked]

Summing up: I'd say that there has been a general move towards the use of the usages you say are new, and that the 'older style' you mention ('Have you a cough?') is perceived as dated, though as Barrie points out, 'I have not a car' was not in common use even 50 years ago.

  • 1
    But I haven't a car was quite common in the UK, especially among those teachers who peeved about got.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 16, 2013 at 13:57
  • 1
    And my impression is that the do you have and I don't have forms were essentially unknown in British English fifty years ago, except for a habitual sense. I saw them as an American import.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 16, 2013 at 13:59
  • You may be right about the American influence. Nov 16, 2013 at 15:25

SUPPLMENTAL to Edwin Ashworth's answer
It appears that Colin Fine is right: Americans began abandoning the auxiliary-like use ten or fifteen years before the British.

Have you a

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