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Author Topic: haven't and don't have?  (Read 686 times)

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Offline SaoTopic starter

haven't and don't have?
« on: May 22, 2013, 08:12:12 PM »
My friend and I were having a discussion about haven't and don't have. We're working on a project, she'd translate Japanese text to English and I'll add the text into the pictures. Last time she wrote this:

Quote
We…don’t know. We haven’t the faintest idea.

And I asked

Quote
Shouldn't it be haven't had or don't have? I chose haven't had...

So she responded

Quote
It's correct, mostly due to the fact it's commonly said. "We have no  idea" works "We don't have an idea" works, but "We haven't had" does not work at all because have an had are the same word. It's just one is in the past tense "had" and one is said when referring the present "have" They can't be used together.

I'm going to tell her it's present perfect and while haven't had might sound odd (to her, maybe? I see that a lot), it is absolutely acceptable but I'm not sure about the use of have,like, which is “more correct”:

    I haven’t the slightest idea.
    I don’t have the slightest idea.

I did some research on Internet.  I only found forums and random English learning sites, but this quote is exactly what my teachers told me, it's also in all the text books.


Quote
...the use of the contraction "haven't" is largely limited to those instances when "have" is used as an auxiliary verb (as in I have seen that movie/I haven't seen that movie.) When "have" is the main verb, you usually negate it in the same way you negate other verbs: with a negative form of "do": I have the answer/ I do not have the answer; I don't have the answer.
(source:http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2263672)

I have seen many people use haven't instead of don't have even the native speakers (I thought my friend is from America, but now I'm not sure, maybe she's from Uk. Anyway she's a native speaker). 

Does anyone have a more reliable source about this topic?

Offline Shjade

Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2013, 08:44:25 PM »
I don't know about reliable sources for it (I could find some, most likely, but eh, I'll just put this first and then maybe go looking), but I can say that "haven't the slightest idea" is a phrase in common use, to the point where you can often find even that shortened to just "haven't the slightest" or similar. I like "haven't the foggiest" best, myself.

"Haven't had" is a different thing altogether. To say you "haven't had the slightest idea" is to say you did not, in the past, have the slightest idea, whereas "haven't the slightest idea" is saying that you currently, in the present, do not have the slightest idea.

"Don't have" may be more technically correct, perhaps, but "haven't the slightest" should be acceptable as well.

And now I'll go looking for sources.

Edit: from what I can tell from very brief searching around, either form is more or less acceptable, though the "haven't the"/"haven't a" form is apparently more Euro-popular than American. Or something. What can I say, I'm terrible at research (which is why I never got into teaching/journalism! ...among other reasons).
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 08:49:58 PM by Shjade »

Offline Oniya

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 09:02:51 PM »
I've seen 'haven't had' used, normally along the lines of 'I haven't had any luck fishing here,' or 'I haven't had lunch yet'.  As Shjade said, it implies a past occurrence that is still going on.  'I haven't had any new ideas for a long time,' would be another use-example.

Offline Kythia

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 09:17:50 PM »
The issue is that "haven't the faintest idea" is a figure of speech and so doesn't parse normally.

To "have an idea" isn't the opposite not "not having an idea".  "Have an idea" means be struck by inspiration or a sudden thought.  In the sense you're using it, "haven't the faintest idea" doesn't mean that you, literally, have no ideas.  It means you don't know something.

What you seem to be trying to do - and understandably enough - is break the phrase down into its constituent parts.  I can see why you'd do that and I know its something I do in Arabic and German.  But in this case its incorrect.  "haven't an idea" comes as one complete package (leaving aside, as Shjade points out, that other words can be inserted in the middle).

So your friend is correct when she says its commonly said, and you're correct with the rule.  Its just the rule doesn't apply in this case because it's a complete phrase rather than a collection of words.

I racked my brain to come up with another example and all I could come up with was "the he said, she said".  I think its a UK English phrase (you can hear it in "Parklife" by Blur if you like bland early nineties Britpop) meaning gossip.  That can't be parsed either.  You can't have "the he is saying, the she is saying", "the he says, she says" or any other variation.  I get that exceptions don't make languages easier but, meh.

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2013, 09:35:03 PM »
Haven't = have not.

"I haven't had chicken in a week.  I'm missing it."


Offline SaoTopic starter

Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2013, 09:35:34 PM »
Yes, I know "haven't had" and "don't have" are different. We're translating something and the grammars of both languages aren't the same, so I need to consider the situation. And I think present perfect is more suitable in the case. 

The problem here is haven't or don't have.

The situation is the King is sick and the Royal doctor is trying to figure out the sickness. So, the dialogs must be grammatically correct (you know, the way they talk in court with all the formality...). Maybe "haven't the faintest idea" is commonly used, but I'd like to know if it's correct.

Offline Oniya

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 11:25:36 PM »
Either one could be used.  Sometimes more formal speech loses the contractions (i.e. I have not the faintest idea, Sire), but the sentence structure would remain the same.

Offline Shjade

Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 11:58:41 PM »
You could also circumvent the whole issue by shortening it to "We have no idea," which gets the same point across.

Since the first sentence ("We...don't know.") has a contraction in it and you seem okay with that, it's probably okay to roll with "haven't the faintest" right after it.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2013, 12:56:03 AM »
The situation is the King is sick and the Royal doctor is trying to figure out the sickness. So, the dialogs must be grammatically correct (you know, the way they talk in court with all the formality...). Maybe "haven't the faintest idea" is commonly used, but I'd like to know if it's correct.

In a case like this the speech would probably be formal and contractions would not be used.

Offline Shjade

Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2013, 02:37:40 AM »
Probably, though context would help. I mean, what's the doctor like? Is he the really formal, uptight kind of doctor, or the more eccentric medicine-over-socialization type? Is he talking to the royal advisors or his wife? Etc.

Offline SaoTopic starter

Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 02:58:02 AM »
About context, the doctor isn't the main character so there's no personality, and he's talking to one of the King's daughters, who doesn't have an important role, but still is a royalty.

"I haven’t the slightest idea." sounds weird to me. If someone asks me: "have you a car?" : in chatting where I read the line, I'd assume they missed the "got" (have you got a car). In real life, my reaction would be "Hah?" and then "No, I'm a human not a car."  :P

Offline Kythia

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 12:35:42 PM »
Mmm, while it may sound strange I assure you its a perfectly common expression.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 11:27:09 PM »
Putting "have" in front for a short question sounds a bit archaic to me in English: "Have you any liquor?", "Have you eaten?", "Have you fire?" (matches or a lighter). Without got or do you it sounds odd.

Makes me think of this line from a pirate story set in the early eighteenth century, where the author was trying hard all through the book to make the talk sound historically right, maybe too hard? Two pirates, one of them female, are being marched to the local prison, largely naked and bound: "Shut up woman, I don't want the whole of Nassau to see us being dragged to the gaol. Have ye no pride?"  :P

Offline Oniya

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 11:32:01 PM »
Considering the context, I think archaic might suit the character better.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2013, 12:00:14 AM »
Considering the context, I think archaic might suit the character better.


Yes, it's interesting, and certainly adds spice. Sometimes it goes over the top, as when Blackbeard shoots himself into a house and greets those inside: "Merry F***ing Christmas to everybody! Dost know who I am?" and gets the reply "Aye Sir, thee be Master Ned Teach."  :D

Offline Oniya

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Re: haven't and don't have?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2013, 12:08:06 AM »
There was an episode of Robin of Sherwood where that was played for comedy.  The Sheriff of Nottingham has stopped a man with a cartload of hay.

Sheriff:  What's your name?
Man: Carter
S: What do you have in the wagon?
Man: *looks*  Hay.
S:  Eh?
Man: *nods* Haaayyy.
S: *fuming*  Do you know who I am?
Man: *nods calmly, speaks slowly as if talking to a half-wit*  Ah'm Carter, tha's hay, and tha is the Sheriff.