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:‎

EnglishFrench
I havej’ai
you (singular, informal) ‎havetu as
he / she hasil / elle a
we havenous avons
you (plural or polite) havevous 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:‎

EnglishFrench
I had‎j’avais
you hadtu avais
he / she hadil / 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: ‎

EnglishFrench
I am going to haveje vais avoir
you are going to havetu vas avoir
he / she is going to haveil / 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:‎

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.