In order to improve your fluency and listening skills, it’s absolutely essential that you know and are able to pronounce the verb have in its two different forms. Have has a strong pronunciation /hæv/ when it’s a main verb (meaning own, possess, etc.) and a weak pronunciation /həv/ or /əv/ when it’s an auxiliary verb.
Notice that there are three main differences:
- As a lexical word, the strong form (that is, the main verb) is normally stressed. On the other hand, the weak form (the auxiliary), which is a function word, is usually unstressed.
- In the weak form, the full vowel /æ/ is turned into a schwa /ə/.
- The /h/ is very often dropped because of elision in the weak form.
Let’s see some examples:
Now listen to these recordings from different sources:
Have (strong form)
And what we have here are a set of creatures that are predators. They’re very difficult to deal with, you wouldn’t really want to cross them. They have these very strong aggressive qualities. These qualities actually that any leader of this period would’ve aspired to (Sue Brunning, The British Museum).
Have (weak form)
In addition, the sound /v/ is sometimes dropped too (elision of v). So, believe it or not, this leaves the verb have pronounced just as a single phoneme /ə/ -no more, no less-, as you can see in the following recording: