To Have and Holding, For as Long as You Both Shall Live

In this post, I’d like to differentiate between the three ways that habeō takes a direct object: (a) an accusative, (b) an accusative perfect participle, and (c) an infinitive.

Habeō takes an accusative direct object in the sense of ‘possessing’ that object.

  • I have three sons: trēs fīliōs habeō.
  • She held the scepter: sceptrum habēbat.

Habeō with the perfect participle bears the same sense as ‘habēbat‘ above: possession extended over a period of time.

  • They are holding him in the prison: eum in carcere habent. (right now)
  • They are holding him in prison: eum captātum in carcere habent. (continuous status of incarceration)
  • They have him as a witness: eum teste habent. (at this moment).
  • They have him as a witness: eum testātum habent. (for now, but also for when they might need him)

Habeō with an infinitive completes a construction of purpose.

  • I have much to promise: multum habeō pollicērī.
  • You have work to do: labōrem habēs facere.
  • You must do the work: labōrem habēs facere. (cf. Spanish tener que)

The Essential AG: 460a, 497b