How to use the verb 'to have' in French

Avoir (to have) – a very useful verb

Avoir (to have) is a very useful verb and is used whenever we would say 'have' in English. It ‎is also used to form other tenses, such as the passé composé (the perfect tense).

  • J’ai les cheveux noirs - I have black hair.‎
  • Tu as un chat? - Do you have a cat?‎
  • Elle a un frère - She has a brother.‎
  • J’ai mangé une pomme - I have eaten/I ate an apple.

How to form avoir in the present tense

Avoir is an irregular verb, which means that it doesn’t follow the same pattern as regular ‎verbs in the present tense.‎

This is how to conjugate the I, you (singular, informal) and he/she forms of avoir in the ‎present tense:‎

EnglishFrenchExample
I havej’aiJ’ai un chien ‎- I have a dog.‎
you (singular, informal) ‎havetu asTu as des frères ou des sœurs? ‎- Do you have any brothers or sisters?‎
he / she hasil / elle aIl a beaucoup d’amis ‎- He has lots of friends.‎

How to use avoir in the past

To talk about things you and other people had in the past, you can use the imperfect ‎tense of avoir.‎

This is how to conjugate the I, you and he/she forms of avoir in the imperfect tense:‎

EnglishFrenchExample
I had‎j’avaisJ’avais un chien quand ‎j’étais jeune ‎- I had a dog when I was ‎little.‎
you hadtu avaisTu avais une voiture bleue? ‎- Did you (use to) have a ‎blue car?‎
he / she hadil / elle avaitMa grand-mère avait les ‎cheveux noirs ‎- My grandmother used to ‎have black hair.‎

How to use avoir in the future

To talk about things you are going to have in the future, you use the correct form of aller ‎‎(to go) plus the infinitive avoir (to have). This tense is called the immediate future and is ‎translated as 'I am going to have', 'you are going to have', 'he/she is going to have'. ‎You form it as follows: ‎

EnglishFrenchExample
I am going to haveje vais avoirJe vais avoir un cheval ‎- I’m going to have a horse.‎
you are going to havetu vas avoirTu vas avoir un petit frère ‎- You’re going to have a ‎little brother.
he / she is going to haveil / elle va avoirElle va avoir une grande ‎fête d’anniversaire - She’s going to have a big ‎birthday party.

Some more useful expressions using avoir ‎

Sometimes, avoir (to have) is used in French where 'to be' is used in English. Here are ‎some useful expressions where this is the case:‎

EnglishFrenchExample
to be … years oldavoir … ansJ’ai onze ans‎ ‎- I’m 11 years old.‎
there is/there areil y a …‎Il y a deux supermarchés ‎dans ma ville - There are two ‎supermarkets in my town.‎
there isn’t/there aren’til n’y a pas de…‎Il n’y a pas de cinéma dans ‎ma ville ‎- There isn’t a cinema in my ‎town.‎ ‎
to be hungry / thirstyavoir faim / soifMa mère a faim - My mum is hungry.‎
to be hot / coldavoir chaud / froidJ’ai froid - I’m cold.‎
to be afraidavoir peurJ’ai peur des araignées - I’m scared of spiders.‎

Quiz

Find out how much you know about the verb avoir in this short quiz.

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