A country Has or a country HAVE? Which is correct?

The correct form is a country has. This is because country is a singular noun, and needs the singular form of the verb “have”. The word country is also in the third person singular; in other words, we are referring to either he, she, or it.

Here are examples of both forms of the verb used correctly.

Australia is a country that has varied and beautiful landscapes.
There are many countries that have varied and beautiful landscapes.

The first sentence is referring to it, or just one country, while the second sentence refers to them, or to many countries.

Is that all there is to it?

Unfortunately, no! If only it were that easy!

You may have noticed that have was used with many countries; in other words, with the third person plural.

However, I have is also correct, even though I is singular. This is because have is used with first and second person singular and plural and third-person plural.

In the context of team/people

In the U.K and Ireland, collective nouns use the plural form of the verb.

The Irish team have great players (British English).

The Mexican team has great players. (American English).

Sometimes countries’ names are used when we are referring to their teams, people and other groups of people. In this situation, a country’s name could be used with “have”.

Russia have won 6 goals to nil. (The Russia sports team.)

The above sentence is written in British English.

How do I remember which one to use?

This is what we need to remember: the form has is used with the third person singular, and the form have is used with the first and second person singular and the plural and the third person plural.

That sounds really awful, so here’s another way of looking at it.

To have means to “possess something”, and the possessor and whatever is being possessed must agree. So, take a look at what is “being possessed” and count them.

If there is only one thing being possessed, use has.
That car has tinted windows.

If there is more than one thing being possessed, use have.

Those cars have tinted windows.

Now take a look at who is “doing the possessing” and identify them.

I have the first place in the queue. (First-person singular)

You have the second place in the queue. (Second-person singular)

She has the third place in the queue. (Third-person singular)

We have the first place in the queue. (First-person plural)

You all have the second place in the queue. (Second-person plural)

They have the third place in the queue. (Third-person plural)

The English language is full of tricks and verb forms are some of the most complex. However, examining the forms have and has a little more closely will reveal the true functions of each word and how to use them correctly in a sentence.


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