My daughter is in an 5th grade English class in Germany with a teacher who teaches British English.

The teacher asked what is the correct response to

Do they have some?

My daughter, who has learned mostly from hearing American English spoken, responded:

Yes, they do.

The teacher said that she should instead say:

Yes, they have.

What is going on here? Is this a difference between American/British English or is one of these more correct than the other?

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    Did the teacher ask: "Do they have some?" or "Have they got some?" The first is the American form, and the right answer is "Yes, they do." The second is the British form, and the right answer is "Yes, they have." Replying "Yes, they have." to "Do they have some?" is just plain wrong. – Peter Shor Sep 22 '11 at 18:07
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    I suspect the confusion might come from German not having a word that performs the role of "do" in "Do they have some?" The German equivalent, "Haben sie einige?", literally translates as "Have they some?" – oosterwal Sep 22 '11 at 18:39
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    Let me add that I don't think I'd be surprised at all if an American replied "Yes we do" to somebody asking "Have you got any ...", since "Yes we do" (or "No we don't") is the correct answer to most questions which ask essentially the same thing in the U.S. – Peter Shor Sep 22 '11 at 18:47
  • Native speaker learning their own language as a foreign language in a foreign country = hilarity ensues. The same happened to me (to a lesser degree) in France. (I’m assuming that your daughter is more or less a native speaker.) – Konrad Rudolph Sep 23 '11 at 9:21

Your daughter is correct: in standard British (or US) English, it should be “Yes, they do.”

The key here is that do, not have, is the auxiliary verb. Have can sometimes be an auxiliary, but in this sentence it’s the main verb. So:

Do they like pizza?” “Yes, they do.”

Have they had lunch yet?” “Yes, they have.”

Do they have some?” “Yes, they do.”

(In some dialects, your teacher’s form would be fine; also, it was quite standard historically. But I think (though I’m not sure) that most speakers who’d use that form would also pose the question differently, inverting the main verb without using an auxiliary do, and would still match the verb of the answer to the initial verb of the question: “Have they any?” “Yes, they have.” parallel to “Heard ye the tidings?” “Yes, I heard.”)

  • “Have they had lunch yet?” “Yes, they did.” – GEdgar Sep 22 '11 at 19:38
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    @GEdgar, surely it would be "Have they had lunch yet?" "Yes, they have" - the "did" in your response corresponds to "had" not "Have they". – Mauro Sep 22 '11 at 19:48
  • @GEdgar: I’ve certainly heard that pairing used, but I think it’s much less common than either “Have they had lunch yet?” “Yes they have.” or “Did they have lunch yet?“ “Yes they did.”, and arises essentially from interference between these. If someone is feeling handy with corpus searching, it would be interesting to check the numbers for these forms in a speech corpus — but it would require a slightly more complicated search than I know how to do, I think. – PLL Sep 22 '11 at 20:22

Correct answers would be either "Yes, they do." or "Yes, they have some.". "Yes, they have" would be an appropriate answer to, say, "Have the done that yet?".

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