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.
Using avoir to talk about the present
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 all the forms of avoir in the present tense:
|you (singular, informal) have||tu as|
|he / she has||il / elle a|
|we have||nous avons|
|you (plural or polite) have||vous avez|
|they have (masculine or mixed group)||ils ont|
|they have (feminine group)||elles ont|
Using avoir to talk about 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:
|you had||tu avais|
|he / she had||il / elle avait|
Using avoir to talk about 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:
|I am going to have||je vais avoir|
|you are going to have||tu vas avoir|
|he / she is going to have||il / elle va avoir|
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:
|to be … years old||avoir … ans||J’ai onze ans - I’m 11 years old.|
|there is/there are||il y a …||Il y a deux supermarchés dans ma ville - There are two supermarkets in my town.|
|there isn’t/there aren’t||il 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 / thirsty||avoir faim / soif||Ma mère a faim - My mum is hungry.|
|to be hot / cold||avoir chaud / froid||J’ai froid - I’m cold.|
|to be afraid||avoir peur||J’ai peur des araignées - I’m scared of spiders.|
Find out how much you know about the verb avoir in this short quiz.