Common French uses of avoir = to have that are unusual in English.

Avoir XX ans = to be XX years old

Il y a = there is (literally there it has)

Il y en a XX = there are XX of them (literally there it has XX of them)

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a? = What is it ? (more like, what has happened, what is wrong ?)


The following are all examples where we say « to be » something and the French language says « to have » something:

Avoir de la chance = to be lucky (not "to have a chance")

Avoir du retard = to be late

Avoir peur = to be afraid

Avoir froid/chaud = to be cold/hot (this is not “to have a cold”, which is = avoir un rhume)

Avoir raison = to be right (not "to have a reason", which is "avoir un raison" notice the "un" in the sentence)

Avoir faim/soif = to be hungry/thirsty


Some other common uses of avoir:

Avoir besoin = to need

Avoir l’air de = to seem (literally, to have the air of…)

Avoir envie de = to want, to fancy (e.g. j’ai envie d’une tasse du café = I want a cup of coffee)