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Reply to "use of "haven't""

Hi, JessyA,

@JessyA posted:


I've come across this sentence: "In sitting here, I haven't a care in the world."

I understand that the person is saying that s/he has nothing to worry about. Although, why does s/he say "haven't" instead of "don't have"?

I've already seen the use of "haven't" like this. Is it informal?

Thank you so much.

Best wishes.

This usage of 'haven't' sounds archaic and unnatural, but not ungrammatical.

Michael Swan, 3rd edition, page 208, says:

"Short question and negative forms (e.g.Have you...?...she has not) were common in older English. In modern English, they are rather formal and uncommon (except in a few fixed expressions like I haven't the faintest idea. They are not normally used in American English:

- Have you an appointment? (formal British English only)
- Do you have an appointment? (American English/British English)
- Angela has not the charm of her older sisters. (formal British English only)
- Angela does not have the charm.. (American English/ British English)"

Having a look at this expression in some English dictionaries, I haven't found any example using 'haven't a care'. They do use 'don't / doesn't / didn't' have a care.


Last edited by ahmed_btm