‘Yes, I do’ or ‘Yes, I have’

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Emily Stella

 

The problem

There’s quite a lot of confusion when it comes to short answers with the verbs do and have. For example, it’s common to hear the following (particularly in the US):

Have you got a spare pencil? Yes, I do.

You’ve got to go to the meeting. No, I don’t.

However, neither of these responses is grammatically correct. In both instances, the verb do is being used as a substitute to have.

In the case of ‘Have you got a spare pencil?’, the expected question is, ‘Do you have a spare pencil?’, which is why you respond ‘Yes, I do.’

The solution

Consider the following two questions.

Do you have a copy of the executive summary?

Have you got a copy of the executive summary?

There is one simple trick to getting the answer grammatically right every time. All you need to do is follow the first verb in the question (also known as the auxillary verb).

In the question ‘Do you have a copy of the executive summary?’, the first verb is do and the main verb is have. So you would respond by saying, ‘Yes, I do’.

If the question is ‘Have you got a copy of the executive summary?’, the correct answer is, ‘Yes I have’ because have is the first verb of the sentence.

It’s that simple.