I was taking a quiz in which there was a series of question about access to common objects (TV, computer, washing machine, etc.) and the two answers were "have" and "haven't". Is the usage of the latter correct? It felt really unusual and I would use "don't have" instead.


2 Answers 2


There may be a transatlantic divide here, with AmEng favouring ‘don’t have’. BrEng will normally use ‘haven’t got’. ‘Haven’t’ is also found in BrEng, but usually with an indefinite object as in ‘I'm sorry, I haven't a clue’. With a definite object in ‘I haven’t the TV’ it is certainly strange. In some contexts, even with an indefinite object, it can be formal to the point of pretentiousness, as in ‘I haven’t a TV’.

  • 2
    +1 But if you wanted to really make that sentence pretentious, you might add ", I have books--you know, the things made of paper with printing on them?"
    – JeffSahol
    Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 12:21
  • I believe it's also true that many Americans either actually say, or don't got a problem with that usage, which particularly grates on my British ear. Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 12:38
  • @FumbleFingers: which usage? AmE speakers say 'I don't have any/a ...' (and in very informal circumstances 'I don't got any/a/no...'), and never say 'I haven't any/a ...' or 'I haven't got any/a ...'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 22:26
  • @Mitch: I'm a Brit! You're the American, so you know better than me what you say. But that link above is where Google says there are 183,000,000 instances of "don't got" on the internet, and I doubt if more than a handful of those will be British. Us Brits think Pink Floyd were grammatically daring to pen the line We don't need no education, but I suspect if they'd been American it'd have been We don't got no education. Oh - and we always say "I haven't got a clue" and such! :) Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 23:26
  • @FumbleFingers: I was just trying to clarify what you were saying is BrE or AmE.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 18:22

"I haven't the TV" is correct but doesn't sound very natural. A better sentence using haven't is "I haven't got the TV".

However, it sounds fine in uses such as "I haven't the nerve to sack him", "I haven't the guts for that rollercoaster", "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue".

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