the passive form of have

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mohammed sayed, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. mohammed sayed Senior Member

    She has a car.
    A car is had by her.
    Am I right?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. dn88 Senior Member

    Well, that's technically correct but I don't think anyone would ever say it. The use of the passive form of 'have' is usually limited to fixed expressions such as "A good time was had by all".
  3. You are correct. The Beatles used it in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" albeit in past tense. (A good time was had by all.)
    EDIT: Xposted with dn88

    <<Moderator note for the benefit of newcomers to the thread: The following "Edit PS" is not an edit of the original post, it is a new reponse to a post that comes after this one! In future, AB, please stick to forum principles and make a response to follow a comment and not precede it - that only causes confusion. Thank you>>

    EDIT PS:
    Disagree with PaulQ. This is the correct form. He is, however, correct to warn you that there are very few occasions on which you would actually use the passive voice of "to have."
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2013
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Unfortunately, it would be difficult for you to be more wrong. :)

    You should not attempt to put the verb "to have" in the passive.

    To have has many meanings. The meaning changes when to have is put in the passive. Here you are using to have to mean "to own" -> she owns a car -> a car is owned by her. :tick:

    You may think that to have also means "to possess", and as an active verb, it may do, but here, if you put "possess" into the passive, you end up with a very strange meaning:

    She possesses a car. :tick:
    A car is possessed by her -> this also mean that her demonic spirit inhabits a car... :D
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    In your quote "A good time was had by all", do you agree that "had" = spent or experienced?, which is entirely different from how the OP has used it. You will note that the OP has used the verb to have, as I suggested, to mean "to own."

    Would you really say "A car is had by me."? :eek:
  6. There are three questions here.

    1. Is "to be had" the correct passive form of "to have." Answer: yes.
    2. Is the passive form of "She has a car" the following "A car is had by her." Technically yes, but it is not used for the reasons PaulQ explained. The meaning is too ambiguous, if not downright funny or embarrassing. You would be well-advised to avoid the use of the passive voice of "to have" except, as dn88 correctly noted, for set phrases.
    3. How would you actually in everyday English express the idea "She has a car" in passive voice? Probably something like: "A car is owned by xxx (the name of the woman)." -- Although it still seems like a very unusual construction.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  7. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I agree with PaulQ. You need to be aware of the 20 or so meanings of the verb "to have"

    In this case "she has" is being used to mean "she owns".

    The 'passive' is "A car is owned by her."
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  8. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Mohammed, as the others have said: No, this isn't right. We wouldn't say "a car is had by her." We might say, "A car is owned by her." But it would be highly unusual to use a passive version of such a sentence. If we want to say that she possesses a car, we'd simply use your original sentence, "She has a car," or "She owns a car." There's just no reason to say it any other way.
  9. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I can imagine a situation where you might use the passive of "to own" for strong emphasis, e.g.

    Who owns these vehicles?
    Well, the car is owned by Mary but the van is owned by John.
  10. Great example!
  11. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Don't use it for cars

    Slang Dictionary (

    [h=3]been had definition[/h] and was had
    1. phr. been copulated with; been made pregnant. : I've been had, and I'm going to have the baby. , I was so had!Twins!
    2. phr. been mistreated, cheated, or dealt with badly. (See also taken.) : Look at this shirt! I was had!
  12. mohammed sayed Senior Member

    Thanks a lot for your help I think the correct form is A car is owned by her.
  13. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    This page explains
    active sentences containing certain verbs cannot be transformed into passive structures. "To have" is the most important of these verbs. We can say "He has a new car," but we cannot say "A new car is had by him." We can say "Josefina lacked finesse," but we cannot say "Finesse was lacked." Here is a brief list of such verbs:
    look like
    agree with
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013

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