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Newsletter May 15 - 2011FREE email English course

This is part 2 continued from April newsletter titled Have... Read Part 1 of Have

Then of course ‘have’ also appears in the area of necessity and control. Let me explain the first one – necessity. We can say: I must get up early tomorrow morning or we can say: I have to get up early tomorrow morning. Both mean the same or do they? No, they don’t. ‘Must’ is me telling myself to get up early but ‘have to’ is someone else telling me to do that – I have to get up early tomorrow morning because my boss wants to hold an early morning meeting. And control? That’s when you get someone else to do something for you as in: I hate cutting the grass and so I have Charlie do it or I have it cut by Charlie. By the way Charlie is a friend of Lily, who as you know has just gone to the shops.

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But ‘have’ can change from a verb into a noun just to show you how versatile (can do many different jobs) it really is. Sociologists (people who tell you all about how people live in society) are always talking about the ‘great divide’ in society. What they say is that there is a big difference (a divide) between the rich and the poor. And now we come to ‘have’ turning into a noun. Those who are poor are called the ‘have-nots’ and those who are rich are called the ‘haves’.

But ‘have’ is best known for its use in idiomatic expressions. ‘Have it out with someone’ is when you have a long discussion with someone because you want to settle (find the answer to) a problem. . When we say: My car has had it, this means it’s not working any more and it’s now useless. You ‘have someone on’ when you play a trick on them: A: Did you know I am now a lottery millionaire? B: Really? A: No, not really I’m just having you on. There are times when you feel that someone is trying hard to make life difficult for you at work. Everything you do is wrong. You say: I know that the manager ‘has it in for’ me. She always tries to find mistakes in everything I do. ‘Have it in you’ suggests you have the ability to do something (you can do it). Often this is used in the negative as in: I didn’t know he had it in him (was able to do this) – he actually stood up in front of all those people and gave a wonderful speech. And now I come to a very sad story, a true story about something that happened almost 60 years ago and shows how sometimes language can be a matter of life and death. Two young men (Derek and Chris) broke into a building to steal something. A policeman ran after them and caught them on the roof. The younger one (Chris) had a gun. The police officer said: Come on, young man. Give me the gun. The older one (Derek) said: Let him have it, Chris. Now we come to the sad part. ‘Let him have it’ can mean ‘attack (in this case ‘shoot ’) him but it could also mean: Give it (the gun) to him. Chris shot and killed the policeman. The jury (the people in the court who decide whether someone has committed the crime) decided he meant: Shoot him. Derek said he meant: Give it to him. Derek was hanged because he was 19 and Chris (16) who had shot the policeman was not hanged but sent to prison for ten years because of his age and is still alive today.

After that terrible story I’ll change the subject, use my final ‘have’ and say: Have a nice day.

Alan Townend

PS: I'm looking forward to your comments and questions which you can post here: Newsletter: Have

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