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What is the difference between didn't have and hadn't? I have a sentence: He __(not/have)__ a wife and he lived in a vary large house with a housekeeper. I found in a key to this exercise that besides the form 'didn't have' you can also use 'hadn't'. Is it common to say: 'I hadn't a wife/cat/car etc?
Sep 26, 2019 6:54 PM
Answers · 4
The topic has been discussed before. The brief answer is that "didn't have" became more common than "hadn't" in the 1930s in the U.S. and in the 1960s in Great Britain. Both are correct, but "didn't have" is more common now.
September 26, 2019
You can say hadn’t that way but it’s rather rare. I would never say it in that specific sentence. It sounds kind of like an old fashioned way to say it. It’s possible it’s more of a British English way to say it too. The most common way I can think of that’s used is in the phrase “He hadn’t a care in the world.” Another would be a poetic usage something like “He hadn’t a wife nor a house nor a car.”
September 26, 2019
Yes, you can use "hadn't," but it is not very common and may sound overly formal or even pretentious. I would say "didn't have" is the norm.
September 26, 2019
Language Skills
English, French, Russian
Learning Language
English, French