February 16, 2013

Translating “Have”

The English verb “to have” has a variety of usages. This note discusses how to translate its various uses.


“To have” can indicate possession, whether actual ownership of a thing, possession of certain attributes, or possession of relationships, etc.

See the article about possession in Hindi for more information.

“Do you have the key?” – क्या तुम्हारे पास चाबी है

In the previous example, the thing possessed is a key, which is impersonal and moveable, so the postposition के पास was used.

“I have a house” – मेरा घर है

In the previous example, the thing possessed is impersonal, but it is immovable, so the possessive adjective मेरा was used.

“I have two sisters” – मेरी दो बहिनें हैं

In this example, the “possession” indicates a relationship. The object is personal, so a possessive pronoun was used.

An Experience

“To have” can indicate an experience, or something that occurred.

मेरी सर्जरी हुई – “I had a surgery”

In this instance, the verb होना is used. The Hindi idiom is more passive and indirect than the English idiom. The sentence literally means “My surgery happened”.


“Have” commonly indicates compulsion.

I have to go – मुझे जाना है

आपको फॉर्म अदालत में पेश करना पड़ेगा – “You have to submit the form to the court”

Read the article about compulsion idioms for more information.

Auxiliary Verb

The various forms of “Have” are used as auxiliary verbs.


“Have” is used to form causative verbs.

“I had my hair cut” – मैंने अपने बाल कटवाए

Hindi employs a special causative verb form for this purpose.

Perfect Forms

“Have” is used to form perfect verb forms.

See the articles about the Hindi basic verb forms for more information.

Physical Sensations or Problems

“Have” is used to express physical sensations or problems in English. These can usually be translated with an indirect verb construction.

“I have a cold” – मुझे ज़ुकाम है

“I have a headache” – मेरे सर में दर्द हो रहा है

मुझे हिंदी बोलने में थोड़ी दिक्कत होती है – “I have a little trouble speaking Hindi”