had blood in her eye, had dirty hands, had a comb in the pocket

zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
Can I use 'have' in such contexts as we do in Polish?

1. 'She had blood in her eye'. (after an injury) or do I need to say 'There was blood in her eye' ?
2. 'He had dirty hands.' (after repairing a car) or do I need to say 'His hands were dirty'?
3. 'He had a few books on his desk.' (books sitting on his desk) or do I need to say 'He kept a few books on his desk'?
4. 'I had a comb in my packet.' or do I need to say 'I kept a comb in my pocket'?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To have can be used as a pro-verb (in place of a more precise verb)

    I had (took/ate) a meal.
    I had (suffered from) a cold.
    I had (experienced) the same treatment as you

    etc.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    There is nothing wrong with any of the "had" expressions, but what I find a bit dodgy about (3) and (4) is that they are not as equivalent to their counterparts as in (1) and (2).
    This is because "kept" feels like it expresses habit. "I kept a comb in my pocket, or a few books on my desk" suggetss it was normal or usual for me to carry a comb in my pocket or for there to be a few books on my desk.
    But with "had" I get more of an impression (in the absence of further context) that we are talking about a specific occasion, as seems to be the case with (1) and (2).
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And are these two also correct/natural?

    "I hate it when you have greasy hair."
    "I hate it when your hair is greasy."
     
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