How to use the verb ‘to have’ in German

Haben is an important verb to know. You can use it to say you have something and use it in lots of useful phrases. Haben is an irregular verb in the present tense, meaning it doesn’t follow the same pattern as regular verbs.

'Haben' in the present tense

You can find the conjugations of haben in the present tense in the table below.

EnglishGermanExamples
I haveich habeIch habe Pizza zum Mittagessen - I have pizza for lunch.
you havedu hastDu hast einen Computer - You have a computer.
he haser hatEr hat eine Katze - He has a cat.
she hassie hat Sie hat lange Haare - She has long hair.

When to use 'haben'

You can use haben to talk about lots of things you have, including:

  • Family members

    • Ich habe zwei Schwestern - I have two sisters.
  • Pets

    • Sie hat ein Kaninchen - She has a rabbit.
  • Describing physical appearance

    • Du hast blonde Haare und blaue Augen - You have blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • Saying you have an object

    • Ich habe ein Buch - I have a book.
Sie hat ein Kaninchen.

'Haben' and 'to be'

Sometimes haben is used where you would use to be in English, for example:

  • Ich habe am ersten Januar Geburtstag - My birthday is the 1st January.
  • Ich habe Hunger - I am hungry.
  • Sie hat Durst - She is thirsty.
  • Ich habe Glück - I am lucky.
  • Ich habe Recht - I am right.
Ich habe am ersten Januar Geburtstag.

Using 'haben' in questions

You can use haben to ask questions. In sentences, the verb needs to be the second idea, but in questions, the verb comes first. This is called inversion.

  • Du hast - You have
  • Hast du…? - Do you have...?
  • Hast du Geschwister? - Do you have any brothers and sisters?
  • Hast du Haustiere? - Do you have any pets?
  • Hat deine Mutter blonde Haare? - Does your mother have blonde hair?
  • Hat deine Stadt ein Theater? - Does your town have a theatre?

Using 'haben' in the past tense

To talk about the past, you can use ich hatte, meaning I had. This is the imperfect tense. You can find more conjugations in the table below:

EnglishGermanExamples
I hadich hatteIch hatte Pizza zum Mittagessen - I had pizza for lunch.
you haddu hattestDu hattest einen Computer - You had a computer.
he hader hatteEr hatte eine Katze - He had a cat.
she hadsie hatteSie hatte lange Haare - She had long hair.

Using 'haben' in the future tense

To talk about what you will have in the future, use a conjugation of the verb werden with haben. The form of werden has to be the second idea in the sentence and haben moves to the end of the sentence. You can find the conjugations of werden in the table below.

EnglishGermanExamples
I will haveich werde ... habenIch werde eine Pizza zum Mittagessen haben - I will have a pizza for lunch.
you will havedu wirst ... habenDu wirst einen Computer haben - You will have a computer.
he will haveer wird ... habenEr wird eine Katze haben - He will have a cat.
she will havesie wird ... habenSie wird lange Haare haben - She will have long hair.

Quiz

Find out how much you know about haben in this short quiz!

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