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Is the sentence 'The man was not having any change' grammatically correct? Or does I have to be 'did not have'?

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Stative verbs like have, be, love are not ordinarily used in progressive constructions, at least in part because one function of the progressive is to ‘recategorize’ an eventive as a stative and statives are of course already stative. When they are used in the progressive, they have somewhat different meanings:

He's being an idiot does not mean He is an idiot but He's behaving like an idiot.

I'm loving it! does not mean I love it but I am enjoying it greatly.

I'm not having it does not mean I don't have it but I refuse to accept it.

In your sentence have is used in its ordinary sense possess, so it should not be cast in the progressive.

2

Neither usage is technically incorrect, but they carry slightly different meanings. Almost always, "did not have" is what you intend. A native English speaker would almost never use "was not having", and certainly not in that context.

  • I'm not having that! – TimLymington Dec 24 '13 at 17:46
  • @TimLymington Exactly! It has a different meaning. – Mark Bailey Dec 24 '13 at 18:05
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It is grammatically correct, but it doesn't make logical sense. What is the act of not having any change that this man was engaged in?

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