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  1. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    have not/don't have

    A long time ago when I was in 10th Grade, my English teacher once told me that it’s wrong to say 'I have not a pen.' We must add the auxiliary ‘do’ before ‘have’, (which is the main verb of the sentence.) and say 'I don’t have a pen.' instead. Everything had been clear to me until the time I didn’t come across the sentence 'I have not a car.' in a novel, whose formation is the same as that of the first one, which my teacher declared wrong. I am confused whether the book, in which I came across the sentence, was wrong, or my teacher was not clear enough about the formation. As far as I know we never use the verb of negation right after a main verb.

    Would someone like clarifying it to me?

    Thanks

    With best regards,
    Alvina


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #2

    Re: have not/don't have

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvina View Post
    A long time ago when I was in 10th Grade, my English teacher once told me that it’s wrong to say 'I have not a pen.' We must add the auxiliary ‘do’ before ‘have’, (which is the main verb of the sentence.) and say 'I don’t have a pen.' instead. Everything had been clear to me until the time I didn’t come across the sentence 'I have not a car.' in a novel, whose formation is the same as that of the first one, which my teacher declared wrong. I am confused whether the book, in which I came across the sentence, was wrong, or my teacher was not clear enough about the formation. As far as I know we never use the verb of negation right after a main verb.

    Would someone like clarifying it to me?

    Thanks

    With best regards,
    Alvina
    It's not wrong, Alvina, it's simply that it's not one of the common ways we say it in English.

    You can see from the results below that it is possible in some circumstances. Do a Google "exact phrase search" for the collocation below and read some of the examples.

    Googled: Results 1 - 10 of about 229,000 English pages for "I have not a".

  2. BobK's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,038
    #3

    Re: have not/don't have

    As RK says, it's not wrong; your teacher was taking a short-cut - 'do not have a' is more common, and 'have not a' occurs in some special contexts and collocations, so it's safer/easier to teach the 'do not ...' one.

    Another thing to consider is the time when the novel was written. Generally (though not in this case) a teacher may tell you what is true now, but there will almost always be published examples of the opposite.

    b

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