I have a pen. / I've a pen.

Kenny Chang

Senior Member
Chinese(Traditional)
Hello, everyone.

I know in the perfect tense we can combine have or has with the subjects: I've been to..., He's finished..., They've come..., etc.
But if have or has is a regular verb, can they still be combined with the subjects?
For example,
1. I've a good teacher. (I have a good teacher.)
2. He's a dog. (He has a dog. / He is a dog. :D)
3. They've great power. (They have great power.)

Thank you.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But if have or has is a regular verb, can they still be combined with the subjects?
    For example,
    1. I've a good teacher. (I have a good teacher.)
    2. He's a dog. (He has a dog. / He is a dog. :D)
    3. They've great power. (They have great power.)
    Hello, Kenny. People probably do produce similar contractions in rapid speech, but I don't think that this is something that you should deliberately try to do. He's a dog is particularly strange and hard to understand.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE/Spanish-Mexico
    You would have to use great caution whenever you use these types of contractions. They can be easily misunderstood. You may hear it in speech and hardly ever in text unless you are writing dialogue as owlman5 points out.

    Likewise, I don't think anyone says/would dare say "he's a dog" unless he really is a dog.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    But if have or has is a regular verb, can they still be combined with the subjects?
    I think contraction is about pronunciation. If "have" or "has" is unstressed, you usually don't hear the "ha" part, so we write it as a contraction to show that pronunciation. But in some sentences "have/has" is stressed, so the "ha" can be heard. In those cases you should not use the contraction, because it does not match what is spoken.

    In other words I've is grammatically the same as I have, it just shows how most people pronounce I have in some sentences. As always, speech is the actual language, not writing. Contractions are imitations of speech.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think a contracted have tends not work with he or she. It's also more likely to happen if the complement is rather more complex.

    He's a dog. :cross:
    I've a few questions to ask you. (OK for me)
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    I agree with Natkretep about complex complements. For example:

    I've a pen :confused:
    This is theoretically possible, but unlikely and unidiomatic. I can't imagine saying this, at least not in modern English.


    I've enough pens for the whole class, but not enough paper. :tick:
    This sounds much more like something that we might say, at least in BrE.

    I also agree about the third person, he, she and it. Contractions such as He's a dog for He has a dog just don't work.
     
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