HAS or HAVE

English grammar and usage issues

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HAS or HAVE

Unread postby cosmo » 17 May 2007, 02:02

Which would you say?

1. I'm sorry that it's you who has to tell her.

2. I'm sorry that it's you who have to tell her.

All of my native English speaking friends are saying "has", but some ESL friends are saying this is gramatically incorrect and that it should be "have".

Is it one of those that hangs in the creative melting pot of wordage betwix slang and acceptable yet unquestioned grammar, perhaps?
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Unread postby jasminade » 22 May 2007, 17:29

In this case, the "who" is related to "it's" and not the "I", nor the "you".
Therefore the use of the 3rd person singular is correct.
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 12 Jul 2007, 06:11

It all depends on whether 'you' is plural or not.
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Can you give more examples please?

Unread postby bambang » 15 Jul 2007, 15:06

Dear Jasminade and Peter.

Could you give more examples so that it would be more clear to me.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Right or wrong...

Unread postby shlee » 16 Jul 2007, 04:19

The use of has or have in the sentence is a curious sentence...jasminade is right for the reasons she stated...

As a practical matter of speech I often try saying the word phrase to myself to see which it most appropriate. For example, just say this,

you has to... and you have to...

You will quickly hear the difference as you say them

Now say this,

it has to... and it have to...

Again, you can hear the difference.

Regarding the pronoun you which can be used as a first or second person reference either singular or plural, I think has would not fit regardless of whether you is in the singular or plural form.

In regards to using it as an object pointing to the pronoun you. I just think using it when referring to people is a bad habit that has developed over many years. I never use it as a form of pronoun reference, and neither do I allow my students to use the word in that way...
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Re: Right or wrong...

Unread postby Peter Easton » 16 Jul 2007, 07:05

The following examples are all grammatically correct in using a 's' on the verb because 'it' is the subject, not 'you'.

'It's you who wants ice cream, not me.'
'It's you who likes this music, not me.'
'It's you who knows the way. I'm not familiar with this place.'


The only time you could drop the 's' on the verb with the syntax 'it's you who [verb]' is when the 'you' is plural. For example:

'It is you, the people, who have the chance to vote for Mr Brown in next week's election!'
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Thanks Peter.

Unread postby bambang » 16 Jul 2007, 09:55

Thank you very much for the explaination Peter.

It's very clear to me now.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby matthau » 25 Mar 2008, 14:45

It is you that has to tell her.
It is you who have to tell her.

Similar cleft sentences:
It is me that is wrong.
It is I who am wrong.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby Peter Easton » 25 Mar 2008, 15:04

I hope the two previous posters are not language teachers. :roll:
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby matthau » 25 Mar 2008, 19:37

Peter,

The difference between 'It is I who am wrong' and 'It is me that is wrong' is merely stylistic.
The form of the verb 'to be' in the subbordinate clause depends upon the predicative pronoun in the principal clause, and has nothing to do with the formal subject 'It'.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby Peter Easton » 26 Mar 2008, 02:12

I know but that has nothing to do with the original post.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby matthau » 26 Mar 2008, 08:27

Actually, it does.
This whole confusion occurs because the pronoun 'you' has the same form for the nominative and the objective case. That's why the singular-plural fluctuations of the verb in the subordinate clause may seem strange.
(1) It is you who has to tell her.
(2) It is you who have to tell her.
The distinction becomes obvious when you take a personal pronoun which has different case forms, for example, 'I'.
(3) It is me who is wrong.
(4) It is I who am wrong.
Number (3) is built up on the same pattern as (1), and (4) is similar to (2). Stylistically, (1) and (3) are informal. (That's why to use 'that' as a relative pronoun instead of 'who' would be consistent).
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby Peter Easton » 27 Mar 2008, 03:00

Fair enough. Sentence 2 is not incorrect but it sounds odd. Personally, I would never say it.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby odyssey » 27 Mar 2008, 08:37

I'm sorry that it's you that has to tell her.

Every time. Singular or plural.
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Re: HAS or HAVE

Unread postby systematic » 18 Jun 2008, 16:13

odyssey wrote:I'm sorry that it's you that has to tell her.

Every time. Singular or plural.


Except when the relative pronoun (who or that) is a plural subject pronoun and relates to a plural subject.

Thus, in addressing a crowd:
I'm sorry that it's you that have to tell her.
[that being the subject, and not you]

BTW, that is incorrect in your example, and should be who...

Murphy (1990); Eastwood (1992)
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